On this penultimate day of my thirties, I am reflecting greatly on my grandfather and what he taught me. He was a giant of a man -- in height, in character, and in intellect. He was kind and patient, no matter the situation. I saw him extend to everyone he met the same courtesy, no matter what their race or creed or nationality or orientation might be. He had a smile as brilliant as the sun, he loved a good story, and he truly cared about each person in his world. My grandfather did not drink, did not gossip, never smoked, and to the best of my knowledge he only cursed twice (once in re-telling a story to a neighbor which included a curse word and once in the presence of my grandmother when he was angered). His appreciation for the arts and his love of a witty joke negated any chance of him becoming a prude. He never failed to offer gentlemanly behavior toward a lady, yet raised his granddaughter to be able to manage any task from driving a tractor to castrating a lamb. He was a great man.
Of late, I have reflected often on what he would say about the evolution of society and the current political situation. One of my mother's best friends sent me a note recently which touched my heart with its memories of my grandfather. He was a hard worker, he was always patient, and he truly loved his farm. In my youth, I did not realize just how marvelous it was that he worked with his hands all day -- operating equipment, caring for animals, fixing every broken thing on the farm -- and then withdrew to his study at the end of the day to pore over one of the books from his library. Shakespeare's collected works, the journals of Lewis & Clark, his favorite Lincoln biography "With Malice Toward None". He encouraged me to read, and he engaged me in debates on both history and current events from the time I was small. I marvel now that the caliber of his words & actions were a reflection of the quality of the thoughts which his mind entertained.
My grandfather was a gentleman. He was a man. He had no patience for men who cheated on their spouse or failed their families. My grandfather worked every day. He was understanding of those who faced challenges that impacted their ability to work, but had no patience for laziness. He cared about the integrity of a person's soul. He voted in every election, with the belief that the franchise was a great blessing to all American citizens. He loved his country, and he tended to support politicians who exhibited a similar love of country and integrity of character. Just as he had no patience for Roosevelt or Kennedy cheating on their wives, I am sure he would not forgive the adultery of Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. My grandfather taught me to think before I spoke. This was not an easy lesson for me, and I am still learning it. Yet, if even I can make some achievement toward this goal, it seems all the more ridiculous that a presidential candidate of any party would think themselves above this lesson.
Friends, in the last week, I have become quite despondent at the magnitude of unpleasantness in social media. I have found that if you express outrage at the words of Donald Trump, then you are immediately attacked as a supporter of Hilary Clinton. I have heard people excuse Trump with the term "locker room" conversation, and say that people should "get over it". Memes posted by my friends have indicated that if you have read Fifty Shades of Grey, you have no right to be offended by discussion by Mr. Trump of sexual assault behavior. While I have not read Fifty Shades of Gray, I am rather taken aback that a choice of literature should diminish a woman's right to be offended by unacceptable words. I am personally offended by both the sexual indiscretions of both Mr. Trump and former President Clinton. This is not about a political ideology or party, this is about having the integrity to say when words or behavior are unacceptable. These are not "just words" when they demoralize others. If an individual posted a terrorist threat on social media with no intent of actually carrying it out, I doubt anyone who is excusing Mr. Trump would say these were "just words".
My grandfather was a man. Individuals who speak as Donald Trump and Billy Bush did are either children or perverts . . . They are not men. Real men do not speak in that manner toward any person. I support my friends who are voting for Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton who are able to elucidate how they reached those decisions based on policy discussion. I am the granddaughter of Virgil Harrison, though, and I will not cast a ballot toward an individual whom I view as immoral, no matter their party. However many memes are posted stating that this view means I am a "fool" or I have no right to be offended or I just need to toughen up, I will continue to stand that treating any person with sexual aggression or utilizing disparaging terminology is unacceptable. Such things create a culture where women become even more afraid to speak out when they are impositioned. My grandfather worked to make this world better for me, and I will endeavor to make this world better for those who come after me. In particular, I never want the strong & beautiful young women who come after me to think it is normal for a man with a certain level of power to make sexually charged advances toward them. I would ask my friends to recognize that this issue is not about either political party, it is about character & integrity. I have no problem if my friends support Mr. Trump based on his policy positions, but words matter. Words matter.