Hanna Wauczinski, Journalist

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I am the daughter of two conservative Republicans, I was learning how to safely hold a fun before I learned long division, I was a junior member of the NRA before I was in middle school, and I was rifle shooting before I knew how to solve for x. Some of you may have already stopped reading this, labeling me before even hearing my entire story, dismissing my family and I for who you think we are, as opposed to who we actually are.

This is who I am; I’m a daughter of two Republicans, I understand and respect my parents, my beliefs, without blindingly agreeing with them or you. I go to school, the same school as you and I believe in the same things we all believe in: everyone should be treated with respect and dignity and having love between two people could never be a bad thing. These are the things that I believe that you agree with, but I also believe in the right to bear arms, I believe in free speech without consequence and I believe in god. My parents believe in the same things, just to a more extreme level. They are not bad people. They don’t hate others with different beliefs or different ways of life, they believe in what they were taught to believe. You wouldn’t know we were different from any of you if you saw us. My mother tried to use words like lit and roasted to no avail. My dad cooks on Friday nights and every weekday we all have dinner together, pray and watch Jeopardy. We all shout at the TV while watching sports, my dad tells weird dad jokes and my mom sings while she cleans. In between all of these delightfully normal things, my dad will talk about his political views with me, where I politely nod, like any good daughter in my family would. I agree or disagree in my head silently with him based on what I have seen in this world. Not what people have told me, but what I have lived through and seen with my own two eyes.

I have seen stereotyping from both sides; injustices done to anyone different whether it be due to their skin tone, their religion or their political beliefs. I’ve seen everyone in this world get hurt; the republican whose daughter is dying of cancer, the democrat whose son died in a car crash, the politician who struggles with an eating disorder or the celebrity who has a little sister with down syndrome. It’s easy for us to see people as just their labels. It makes it easier to disagree with them, to say we hate them or their beliefs. It’s easy to call someone racist slurs, use swear words, or a fascist when you only let yourself to see that part of them. It’s easy to label someone with just one word. It will make us feel better when we only have to see a person one way because if we all had to confront the truth (we are all complex human beings that aren’t defined by religion, ethnicity, political beliefs or the words that society has chosen to define us by) we would have to confront something that no one is ready to admit. The Muslim student, the gay student, the Caucasian student, the racist student,  the African American student, the Latino student, the disabled student. We are all the same. Strip down the labels and take away our beliefs, we were all created the same way. Whether our believe it was God, or Allah, or just human biology we are all made out of the same cells just with different genetic codes.

Why does prejudice seem to creep into every aspect of our lives? Why do we expect people to listen to our beliefs without disagreeing when we don’t extend that same courtesy to those whose views oppose us. How can both sides of the argument preach freedom of speech yet hate on anyone who uses their free speech to speak and confront their beliefs? Whether you want to stop them from speaking because you think they are ignorant, naive, idealists, snowflakes, or fascists, if one side wants freedom of speech they must extend that courtesy to the opposing side. Maybe I’m naïve or an idealist, and I realize that the world and beliefs of others are more complex than that, but sometimes we have to make a problem more condensed to start finding the beginning of a solution. In math we simplify problems until they are solvable. We find the square roots of numbers, we move fractions into their simplest form, we follow the rules given to us and in the end we have our solution. In English, after reading a novel we think about the moral; a short message that the author conveyed in hundreds of pages. We read about complex characters and events and then we have to sum up all of that pain and all those lessons learned in a sentence. Many of do it easily because even though  it may have been complex, the moral was easy to understand in hindsight. Sometimes the solution doesn’t solve the whole complexity of the problem, sometimes the solution is the one that fits the best. It touches all points of view as best as it can.

I’m the daughter of two conservative republicans, and I think we shouldn’t just divide ourselves between republicans and democrats. The more we associate and identify people and as red or blue, the greater divide we create between people and the hard