I'm a Republican, but I made two Democrat friends at Trump's inauguration. Their names are Thalia and Caroline, and they voted for Hillary.
Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. I've never had the opportunity to witness the swearing in of the next president of the United States so I was really excited to be able to be an eyewitness at such a monumental occasion. I even arrived at the checkpoint gate at around 5:30am to make sure I had a good spot. I was able to watch a breathtaking sunrise light up the sky behind the Capitol of the United States, where in just hours Trump would take the oath of office. My friends and I passed the time by people-watching, playing phone games, and trying to stay warm between alternating spurts of light rain.
When then still President Obama walked out to take his seat for the inauguration ceremony the majority of the crowd booed him. I happened to glance over and notice two young ladies getting visibly emotional at seeing him in the closing minutes of his Presidency. Some male Trump supporters noticed as well, and began mocking the girls, making fun of them for crying about Obama leaving office.
While I disagree fundamentally with nearly everything Obama has implemented policy-wise, it made me angry to see grown men giving these girls a hard time. These two young ladies were not protesting or making a scene, just quietly and respectfully observing the ceremonies.
After the closing prayers I felt compelled to approach these girls and introduce myself. Their names were Thalia and Caroline and they were very courteous to me as I explained that I was a Republican. I then apologized for the way my fellow Republicans had mocked at their obvious distress in seeing "their guy" leaving office. I thanked them for being brave enough to come knowing that they would be surrounded by thousands of people of opposing opinions; but I also asked them to please not judge all Republicans by the actions of a few grown men who evidently have a lot of growing up to do still.
Thalia and Caroline thanked me for my apology, and said it meant a lot to them. After our brief conversation, we hugged and I asked to snap a quick pic with them because I wanted to share this experience — and I hope you'll share this story too — because it's a message many need to hear.
I'm excitedly optimistic so, in parting, I told Thalia and Caroline I hoped President Trump wouldn't turn out to be such a bad president in their eyes upon the conclusion of his term. They responded that they will hope for the best, and give him a chance.
I'm not just a Republican, I am also a Christian, and the Bible teaches us to love those around us and treat them the way we want others to treat us. The Bible teaches us that where there is contention, we should seek to bring reconciliation and peace. It is impossible for reconciliation to happen in a hostile environment where anger and bitterness — whether justified or unjustified — are present. If the circumstances were reversed and it was myself lamenting four years of an incoming administration that I was apprehensive about, I know I wouldn't want to be treated the way Thalia and Caroline were treated. Reconciliation does not happen by automatically attributing evil motive to other's intentions.
My chance encounter with Thalia and Caroline makes me optimistic that if Americans come together like Thalia, Caroline, and I did, together we can truly make America great again despite our differences. We all need to take a step backwards and remember we are all humans created in the image of God. As such we each deserve to be treated with the inherent dignity and respect due to us as image bearers of our Creator.
Reconciliation requires being proactive. It's time to start working towards unity, not division. Peace, not strife. Love, not hate.