Hey friends. Can we talk for a minute? I’ve debated for weeks about whether this topic is worth approaching because I am a peacemaker who hates confrontation…but I think it is time for a frank conversation. Can you keep an open mind and not burn down my house after you read it? Thanks. (If you cannot commit to this agreement, please ignore this post and go to Pinterest.com to look at fall decor and chocolate desserts.)
2020 is a year of heavy anxiety. We all feel it for fifty reasons. We are TENSE. WOUND-UP. STRESSED. EMOTIONAL. We are spring coils taut with tension, waiting to snap at any moment. This year we have experienced the range of feelings- shock, sadness, anger, despair, and desperation- down to the marrow of our bones. We are right to strongly feel these sentiments because America is confronting some VERY SERIOUS issues. Adding a presidential election to this year is like placing a huge rotten cherry on top of the worst sundae in the century. Sooo, it’s not a surprise that our political conversations are also emotional…but I worry that America is losing its mind over this election. I worry that we have lost all rational thought as we lay claim to the hills upon which we want to die and the issues we so avidly support.
Indeed, there are many important issues that deserve adequate attention, debate, discussion and consideration. We need to think very seriously about the direction in which we prefer America to go in the next four years! However, I worry that our enthusiasm has dangerously evolved into sheer panic as election day looms and we are all boarding our emotional rollercoasters, careening towards a gigantic crash and upheaval on November 3rd. Is it too late to slow down? Is it too late to change course, firmly grip our emotions and retreat into a state of reason? It seems to me like we all need a timeout to regroup on the sidelines. Can we collectively take a long, deep breath and talk about this for a minute?
I am worried that our emotions are overriding our good sense. I see people yelling at their own family members who they love. I see people sulking in anger and avoiding their closest friends because they are frustrated about being unable to secure them as political allies. I see friends judging people harshly for having varied opinions about issues and man oh man… that is very difficult to watch! Have we lost all civility in public discourse? Have we lost the ability to calmly and rationally debate issues and then agree to disagree? Can we thoughtfully debate issues then hug each other goodbye? Again, is it possible to take a step back and return to reason? If you love your family and your friends, don’t let politics get in the way of your relationships. It’s just not worth it!!
Additionally, I am grieved to see many friends throwing away rational thought and broadcasting large stereotypes, especially into cyberspace. People are categorizing the other side as a small, uneducated band of misfits, or worse “racists” or “evil communists.” Have we forgotten 2016? Voters split the ballots 48% to 46%! When people say “those Trump voters do this” or “those liberals do that”, they are speaking of a huge percentage of our population! Such numbers cannot be confined to a small box; 60 million people cannot possibly be voting for one presidential candidate for the exact same reason. And they are definitely not all “haters” or “moochers”.
Have we forgotten the size and scope of the United States?? South Dakota is not the same as Washington DC.; California is not the same as Alabama. Our cultural variety immediately precludes agreement at the polls so let’s stop advertising generalizations and return to a sensible playing field. The plain, rational truth is that there are lovely, intelligent people voting Republican, and lovely, intelligent people voting Democrat for very legitimate, educated reasons. PERIOD. If you do not know a brilliant, articulate person on the other side, then your bubble is too small. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true.
I am also worried that our emotions are hindering us from thoughtful debate. Are you not curious why 60 million people voted differently than you in 2016? Or is anger and resentment standing in your way? Is it not interesting that your neighbor has completely different passions than you? Where did those passions originate? Have you ever sat down and calmly asked her about her experiences that led her to where she sits? Why not? The world is a big place full of fascinating people and if we only sit in our bubble, listening to the same voices promoting our same issues, we miss all the colors around us. Let’s escape from the black and white! It doesn’t mean we need to change our opinions, but maybe, just maybe, we can understand what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes. Maybe, just maybe, we can truly grasp that everyone has their own unique experiences that lead them to vote a certain way. Such thoughtful conversations have the power to diffuse the anger, build more understanding and remind us that we are all humans with valid opinions.
Finally (although not exhaustively), I am worried our emotion and fear are overshadowing our visions and hope for the future. All of us have been tempted and seduced by fear this year. Myself included. It’s hard not to fear for our health and the future and the state of our nation in 2020. In this political season, it’s also difficult not to feel emotional and afraid as we worry about our way of life being under attack, should the other candidate win. News flash: both sides are carrying this weight, this worry that the other side will take away their rights. Can we take a quiet moment to consider this equivalent anxiety? (Again, might this yield more understanding between us?)
Maybe people will disagree with me, but I think our fear and worry over November 3rd is blinding and distracting us to the possibilities beyond that day. If our candidate loses, does it mean we can no longer fight for our causes? Do we throw in the towel, eat a gallon of ice cream and bury our hopes and dreams? NO! (Do we rant incessantly on social media, burn buildings downtown or start a neighborhood militia? Also NO.)
What if we funnel our emotion into action? What if we start thinking of ways to fight for our causes, regardless of who wins the presidency? Could that plan alleviate some of the fear of election day and bring down our blood pressure? For example:
Are you pro-life? You can volunteer at a pregnancy center, become a foster parent or give to adoption organizations.
Are you concerned about climate change? You can donate to environmental organizations and seriously analyze your own carbon footprints.
Are you advocating for immigrants, racial justice, gender rights, education? You can bring it down to your city, your community and your neighborhood. You can get involved. You can love your neighbor as yourself and extend kindness and influence to those on the sidelines. We don’t need a specific president or a specific party to do everything! Whether our side wins or loses, we always have hands and feet and wallets to fight for our causes. Our work goes far beyond November and that should shine a ray of hope into our future. Hope casts out fear and actions can help us override our weary emotions. Let’s commit to this.
(On a sidenote, are you a follower of Christ? If so, let me gently remind you that we don’t need to live in a state of fear or anxiety! We can rest in the truth that the Almighty God is ever-present in our lives and in the midst of this chaos! He came to bring you PEACE, but are you claiming it??*)
I truly believe we can still be a United States on November 4th, but only if we roll up our sleeves, grab the hands of our neighbor and continue the calling placed before us. Our nation is better than this divisiveness, this judgement, this bitterness and anger. We are better than our emotional rants and daggers thrown over the fence. We are a nation that can accomplish big tasks and live in freedom with different cultures, religions and opinions… but that only works if people continue trying to live in peace. It only works if you and I can overcome our differences, see the colors around us and continue marching forward. Can we do this? Can we set aside our raw emotion and sow peace in our circles of influence? Can we focus on understanding and compassion, rather than anger and resentment? Pretty please????
Election Day is coming. Let’s commit to acting like civil adults, regardless of the results. And, hey, if we can’t say anything nice in the end, Pinterest is always ready to welcome us back with more chocolate desserts and impossible crafts. Godspeed to us all!! 🇺🇸
* “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
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3 thoughts on “Hey America, can we take a deep breath?”
Kim, This is an excellent piece! So well written and expressed. Politics isn’t what it used to be.
Debbie Davidson Sent from my iPhone
Yes! Thanks for writing and voicing that so well!
Well done Sarah!