It’s election day in the United States. The whole country has been counting down to this moment since, well, the 2012 general election, given our never-ending campaign cycle. And this has been a political season for the history books. First female presidential candidate put forth by a major party. First presidential candidate who has hosted his own reality tv show. The first time a former President and a former First Spouse could end up swapping roles.
All of these firsts have been overshadowed by the unprecedented rancor that has characterized this election. Each party believes the other’s candidate is a harbinger of the end times. There’s no space for real dialogue about differences in policy when the rhetoric is accusatory if not downright abusive. And there’s little reason to hope for a change in tone when the candidates won’t even shake hands after their debates.
By tomorrow morning, the election will have been decided unless we have a replay of 2000 or the vote gets kicked to the House. And we’ll all have to find a way forward – together. We cannot stay in our red and blue and whatever-color-third-parties-are camps. But I’m not gonna lie, because of the mistrust bred (deepened?) by this political cycle, it will be hard to unify under this President-elect. But unify we must. Not only does the future of our republic depend on it, so does our ability to call ourselves people whose life source is Love.
Here are the best ways to start, so far as I know:
Care for one another. Start simple by doing something nice for someone who believes differently from you. Drop off some brownies. Loan out your favorite novel. Blow the leaves off your neighbor’s driveway while you’re clearing off yours.
Seek out and listen to one another’s stories. We’ve got to acknowledge the humanity in each other again. The narrative you share doesn’t have to be from the depths of your soul, at least not at first. Swap anecdotes from your week.
Focus on our common interests and challenges. Democrats and Republicans and people of other parties have different ideas about how to get things done. But we share many of the same ideals. If we can identify those points of intersection and work together from there – instead of leaping ahead to contrast our proposed solutions – we might just spark some creativity and new understanding in one another.
We’ve got a lot of work ahead. We can – we must – do it. May God equip and embolden us to be agents of connection in a world that so desperately needs our hope and our outstretched hands.