There are few things more beautiful than looking out my front door and seeing the sky lit up over downtown Chicago in the distance, all pink and full of the promise of another beautiful autumn day ahead. The air is colder this morning though, and so is our collective consciousness. With every election, there are always a fair amount of people who are disappointed by the outcome when their candidate doesn't win. That's to be expected.
This time is different though.
Driving my kids around after school these last couple of days, there's a noticible change in the way people are treating each other. People aren't making eye contact with one another, and drivers are so much more aggresive than usual. (And that's saying something where we live.) It's as if everyone is hurting, and angry with each other. There was so much ugliness during the course of this campaign, it's hard to imagine that anyone could have believed we'd emerge unscathed. But it feels like the chasm is so enormous and so deep, how will we ever heal these wounds?
There has been such ugliness on both sides. For eight years, many conservatives have disavowed our current President, refusing to respect or cooperate with him at every opportunity. Now, many liberals are promising to do the same for the President-Elect. Where does that get us? Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
Wouldn't it be better if we tried to heal these wounds with love and understanding? Before you chastise me for being a pollyanna, consider this: an animal is most dangerous when it is wounded or cornered. That is exactly how many people in our country are feeling, and have felt for years if not decades. Regardless of which side you're on, we can all agree; our system is broken.
The result of this election was because people rose up, (on both sides,) hoping to take back some personal power and be afforded ways to make their lives better through hard work and opportunity. As much as we may disagree with how our President Elect ran his campaign with deeply damaging and hurtful rhetoric, the hard truth is this: it worked. Now we have an opportunity. If we are to learn from past mistakes, do we owe him the chance to try to surprise us? To borrow from Hamilton, "history has it's eyes on us."
Sometimes the only way through something is through it. It's not going to be easy. It's most likely going to be uncomfortable. If we want to have a chance at real change, it's going to be important that we stretch ourselves, going out of our way to educate those who need it, adults and children alike. Racism is deeply rooted, and often because people simply have not been exposed to people any different than themselves.
I ask my friends that are of different faiths, races, lifestyles; please make yourselves available to people that need to know you. While it would be understandable for you to remain hurt (I cannot even imagine how many of my friends felt when they woke up on Wednesday morning,) the world so desperately needs your light. We need you to show us who you are, and prove that we are all more alike than we are different. I'm sorry that the burden falls to you, but it does. Find joy in changing people's minds. Connect with others at a heart level. Open doors for strangers. Strike up a conversation with someone that looks different than you in line for your coffee. Let people merge when the lane goes from two to one, taking care to wave and say thank you when someone does the same for you. It starts with the little things.
Throw the pebble in the pond.
My mother worked so hard for peace on the planet during her lifetime. and for equality and justice for all. I asked her once if it was hard to walk around with the weight of the world on her shoulders. I was frustratrated that I felt like she couln't seem to balance that heavy work with trying to also see the good in people who didn't necessarily agree with her. She answered that it was her moral obligation to do whatever she could to make sure that others were afforded the same liberties she enjoyed. I agree with that. But I also think we can operate from a place of understanding, even of those who seem so very different from us at every level.
Love can go a long way. Let's love each other. Try to understand each other. Let's heal this nation and planet together. It can be done. It's a choice.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
As always, find the light. No matter how dark it gets, it's always there if you're willing to look for it.