Unless you’ve been lounging on a remote beach somewhere, out of touch through your mobile device, tablet, laptop or TV, you know that Joe Biden became President-Elect of the United States yesterday. Based solely on an analytical appraisal of election returns, I’m willing to bet big money that exactly half of you were dancing in your kitchen in celebration and the other half of you were feeling rather dejected.
So, we’re at 50-50 as a nation. Split evenly down the middle. As a promoter of authentic, meaningful relationships, and a person whose life’s purpose is to “connect, inspire and empower community,” the lesson of the election results to me is that we are a deeply divided republic and I have work to do. We all do.
We cannot expect our nation to heal… whether from Covid-19, or racial injustice, or economic woes, or mental health challenges, or from disappointing election results, on its own. This is not something that time alone will rectify. Instead, the salve must come in the form of each of us doing our part. We must each express empathy for one another. We must seek to truly love our neighbor – even when we don’t necessarily agree on the issues of the day. We must decide that the state of our nation is better when we are truly united.
This is not going to be easy work; it’s going to be difficult. Our society is fractured and we must decide that it is more important to repair it than to continue to stomp on its remains. There are small things we can do to begin the process of rebuilding our community. From a relationship-building perspective, here are a few (mostly) politics-free ideas for your consideration:
- Check in on a friend. This one is simple. It’s been a challenging and emotional few weeks for everyone. Know someone who could use a little lift? Given ‘em a call or drop ‘em a note. Just check in. Ask how they are feeling, what’s on their mind, and how you can be helpful to them. That you reached out at all will be enormously meaningful – it conveys that they matter to you, that your relationship is important, and that you are available for them as need be.
- Educate yourself and get involved. One of the best ways to shape the world around you is to be an active participant in it. That means jumping in! Take time to learn about issues, study the topics from multiple angles, understand the variety of common perspectives, and take a stand. Bring others along on this journey. Even if they end up on other sides of the issue, having gone through the effort together will help you to form impenetrable bonds. Hey, they may even end up your campaign manager if YOU decide to run for public office someday!
- Identify a friendly “sparring” partner. I wrote about her recently, and today is a good day to once again mention my dear friend and colleague, Michele. She and I are on opposite sides of the proverbial political aisle. She has strong beliefs, opinions and perspectives. She is well-educated on the issues. She understands the positions of those serving in public office. Not only do I have mad love for Michele, but I also respect her beyond measure. When I want to understand a policy-related issue from the point of view of someone with whom I disagree, Michele is my person. She helps me to think about things from angles that were never even in my purview. I don’t usually change my mind, but I do expand my thinking. And, by the way, I think I can speak for her when I say she has the same exact feelings for me in return. The lesson: Find a worthy opponent with whom you can engage in healthy discussion and debate, and still go for a glass of wine when all is said and done.
Whatever you do, remember we are stronger when we are united together. Though political, social, and other current issues are doing their best to divide us, we must fight hard to remain bound by the principles of democracy. This is not about politics. This is about survival of our ideals, of our values, of our nation. Let’s unite once more.