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U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. in their first public step toward a transition of power. (Source: Tribune News Service)

 

America is hurting right now, and it’s not just because Donald Trump will soon be sworn in as president.

This past year has been hard on this country. From mass shootings to a documented rise in hate crimes, the amount of hate and fear that Americans are exposed to in the news seems to be intensifying each and every day.

The election has inflamed all of this beyond the boiling point.

In the war of ideologies and words between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, we have seen America’s darker side, and it wasn’t pretty.

We at The Signpost recognize that, and right now, we are hoping for resolution and peace in the turbulent days to come, which is why we, as journalists, are looking for the facts.

First of all, know that no matter what, hate is never acceptable. That’s why crimes influenced by hate are judged more harshly. To despise a person based on their race, religious beliefs, gender or political affiliation is senseless and ignorant. As a nation, we have been taking steps to eliminate such crimes, but it is a journey on which many Americans still have a long way to go.

One reason is that several tenets of president-elect Trump’s campaign were based on blatant fear-mongering. He will have to pay for those words for the duration of his presidency — and rest of his life. What has given me hope for the future has been the man we have seen since the results of election night.

Since that fateful day, it seems the mantle of responsibility has mellowed him. Where there was talk of walls and mass deportation, there has been a message of peace and healing as a country. And Secretary Clinton and President Obama have echoed a similar sentiment in their recent messages to the nation.

This doesn’t absolve him of his faults, but he may be on a path to change his ways.

Though his rhetoric has softened, this has not stopped or even slowed the rampant slander and hatred. Rather, the spiteful creatures who once remained hidden along the fringes of American society have exploited the current political climate to attack.

The vitriol and rancor from this presidential race has emboldened some of America’s most hateful individuals, leading some to believe that their hatred is valid, but those feelings have the potential to destroy this country.

We, as a nation, need to come together to stop it, immediately, so knowing who your allies are is absolutely necessary.

It is important to understand that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, misogynist, anti-semitic pig hellbent on destroying anyone who doesn’t align with their position. The vast majority are much like you and me, and to negatively label them simply fuels hostilities.

They too are hurting and need a hand to reach out to them in love.

This hurt can’t be equated to that experienced by marginalized communities, but knowing that genuinely good people exist in both camps presents a chance to find peace and strength through unity.

To that end, we at The Signpost intend to help identify allies in the community. Trending currently is the hashtag #safetypin, allies across the nation using safety pins as a symbol of compassion for and support of marginalized peoples.

Awareness is vital, but what this nation needs is active support beyond the symbolic. Yes, the first step is to raise our voices in solidarity, but what’s necessary is critical and active empathy, engaging in meaningful discourse and seeking true understanding.

Whenever you see someone suffering from hate speech and violence, you have a responsibility to step forward and use your voice to stand with those who need an ally.

To those who are living in fear, know that you are not alone. We, among countless others in this country, stand by your side. We will weather this storm together.

Chief Copy Editor Cole Eckhardt contributed to this column

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