I am not a political person. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I, who have hard and fast opinions on everything from how to properly raise children to how to arrange the types of sweetener in the little plastic containers on restaurant tables. I consider it one of the greatest pieces of evidence that we in America are blessed beyond measure that we have the time and ability to know exactly how we like things, and how we don’t. On any given day, you can order a steak in a hundred different ways, and get it.
Politics are not like that. People are not like that. I have yet to be served all the options I checked on my ballot/ political menu. And many of the servers, I find, have not earned their abundance of tips. But we go on paying anyway, and often find ourselves eating the dessert that they recommended, even if it gives us a stomach ache.
I have, that I can recall, never posted anything political on Facebook. At least, nothing leaning to the left or to the right, and certainly nothing that I think of as tearing down this beautiful country that we live in. I love America, selfishly, like a spoiled teenager who has been given much, but has finally started to settle into the appreciation that comes with maturity. I am not blind to its failings, and while injustice breaks my heart, I find that there is so much hope here that the cracks are able to heal themselves, or at least form scars. There are bad people, evil people, but you guys, there are so many good people, so many good things.
America is full of beauty and diversity, courage, strength, and heroism. We are a nation of immigrants, a tapestry woven together with glimmering threads of hope from far away lands. We are a colorful people, a rainbow of hope filled faces. We are dreamers and doers, we are laborers and artists. We are a people of hope. A country whose courage has not been extinguished. We, individually, go about things in very different ways, but we are all hoping to leave this place better than we found it. All striving to make it a place of Yes for our children, a land fertile with promise for our children’s children.
It’s not that I don’t have strong feelings. It’s not that I don’t want to influence the world in one way or another. It’s that every time I get tempted to post something that puts down one candidate, or exposes their awfulness, I remember that they are just one person. Just one, and I know hundreds of people who believe in them. Or who are hanging their hat on that persons ability to change the country just a little bit more in a way that makes them feel safe. Or that makes room for their family.
I voted. I did. And I didn’t write in Pat Benatar, either. Even though, love really is a battlefield. Sometimes.
I colored that little oval in like it was the first day of kindergarten and I was trying to impress my new teacher, so carefully. It felt dangerous. It felt momentous. It felt like writing a check to 100 years of women suffragists, from my own bank account. But it didn’t feel like enough. Because it isn’t.
Tonight they will announce who our next President will be, and it won’t be someone that I absolutely believe in. It won’t be someone who shares my vision for America, not really. But, I won’t lose hope. I won’t give up. I won’t quit believing in my country. I am not looking at our next leader to fix what is broken in our great nation, because they can’t. Only we can.
We can. I know it. We can be kind. We can ask first, and lead with questions that enable discussion, instead of judgements. We can define men and women by “the content of their character, instead of the color of their skin.” We can be nice to each other. We can disagree, and still listen. We can hold up the hurting, and help the poor. We can mother the motherless, and father the fatherless. We can weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. We can build up the broken, and we can walk with the lost. We can do it, you guys, because it matters.
Tonight someone will give a victory speech, and someone will concede. But we can all overcome. We can all be better. We can all try harder.
Tomorrow will feel different, for all of us. January will see moving trucks at the White House, again. But we can still come together. We can still hug tighter and hold longer. We can sing sweeter, and soften the sharp edges of our tones when we speak to each other. And we can look up, past the political signs, and see into the eyes of the people holding them.
People, all people, matter. Regardless of who wins tonight, I hope we don’t lose sight of that.