By Hannah Neumann | Special Contributor
This morning I made my way to the capitol in Washington to document Donald Trump becoming the 45th president of the United States. After a very long walk and multiple diversions due to protest groups, I stood in line for hours, with thousands of others, waiting to pass through the security checkpoint and make my way towards the capitol. There were multiple instances in line of Trump supporters chanting their support for the President-elect and singing songs like the “National Anthem” and “Amazing Grace”, as well as protesters chanting and marching alongside the line with anti-Trump signs.
We were halfway between where we started in line and the security checkpoint, when a small group of protestors formed right alongside where I was standing. They were LGBTQ advocates, and one of the guys was holding up a sign reading “Muslim, Gay, Unafraid.” Minutes after he arrived, a man in line yelled to get the protester’s attention and screamed “It’s over. Trump won. You lose!” The protester ignored the comment. Seconds later, a man walked past the small protest group on the sidewalk, stopped, turned around with a red face and walked back towards them.
“Do you even have parents,” he asked. The group shook their heads yes. “Wow I bet they’re real proud,” he said as he continued to make vulgar and stereotypical comments.
Beliefs and affiliations aside, I was frustrated and pained for the group at the things that were being said to them. As things became increasingly heated, police came to break up the man and the protesters. At that time, a woman made her way through the line to the barricade next to the sidewalk where this was taking place.
“Leave them alone!” she yelled at the man making the repulsive comments. My initial reaction was to think she must be anti-trump as well. But, as the man continued to yell, she started to yell back at him, in defense of the protesters.
“Leave them alone! You’re making us look bad!” she yelled. A woman next to her looked at the LGBTQ protestors and said “I’m a Trump supporter, but I accept you and support you also.”
This was such an interesting moment for me that made me realize a lot. Here we had four people, all who supported a Trump presidency. Two of them were spewing hatred at peaceful protesters, and two were trying to comfort them and stop the negativity that was occurring. It was a direct example to me that people who believe in very different things and who are having very different feelings in a very divided Nation, a very divided street, can still act with decency and respect towards each other.
When all was said and done today, Donald Trump was sworn-in as President of the United States. No negativity or fights or violence or riots or hate was going to stop that from happening. And just as we live in a Nation with a democracy where we choose our leader, so do we live in a world where we choose how we treat people and how we want to live. Regardless of what we believe when it comes to policies and personalities and politics, it is important to treat each other with respect and compassion.
At the end of the day, we are directly impacted more not by who becomes president, but by how we treat each other and how we live our lives. If something happens, and those who supported it treat those who opposed it with malice and the notion that they have “lost.” Then it is not those who opposed it that have lost — it is all of us.