The Day After

This was written Tuesday, November 6, before the polls closed. It was published, unchanged, the day after. If we’re still an undecided nation at that point, I’ve jumped the gun. But at least it’s over.

So it’s the day after.

This day, the one after the election, has been long-awaited by millions, if for no other reason than to have a more positive reaction to the ring of the telephone. While we’re not TV watchers (thank you, Netflix), the freedom from ads is likely another for many.  Relationships also stand to improve with the end of a contentious, divisive election cycle, from families to workplaces to the not-really-so-anonymous world of social media.

Yes, I care deeply about who won. No, I won’t be devastated today if the election doesn’t swing my way. I’ve been voting for 25 years, and I’ve seen enough of the swings back and forth to know that somehow we, as a nation, muddle through. History tells us we have done so for much longer. We move back a bit and forward a bit, with one party’s progress feeling like setback to the other, but we do move. We never reach anyone’s definition of perfection. Given we’re human, that’s about what is to be expected.

So today, here we are, human and post-election. Whomever we’ve chosen is someone whose office and being should be respected. There is a growing trend to deride the President and the office, and while I’m not deeply patriotic, I find this trend disturbing. This person, after all, is far braver than most of us. Standing in that Oval Office takes courage and a fair amount of gumption. More to the point, that person is, well, a person. A human being, which my faith tells me means it is someone to treat with dignity and worth, even if I disagree with his or her politics. Perhaps today we can also extend that respect of the dignity and worth of others (UU Principle #1) to those who voted differently that ourselves. That’s been sorely lacking lately, and I’ll admit to my own low moments, over-characterizing the opposition. My apologies.

Not all the controversy is bad. If we were all red or all blue (or whatever color the Libertarians are), we’d still find ways to divide ourselves. If not, we’d stagnate. It is in the differences that, if we’re being flexible in our thinking and are willing to risk change, that we grow as individuals and as a country. We need the tension of differences to make change happen. Yes, I’d like it to be more respectful discourse, more dedicated to truly hearing the other side, more focused on justice and less on personal wants, loyalty to a single religious or political ideology, or just pure habit. But the tension makes us grow.

Today, however, let’s put that division aside. We are all part of this humanity, all part of the problems and all part of the solutions. Whatever choice we made yesterday, the result of it is ours to share. The future isn’t sealed, and there will always be work to be done. We’ve yet to have a perfect president, and the one just chosen is not likely to achieve that status. He will meet challenges, rising to some and falling short for others. He will delight and discourage sometimes the same person in the same day.

Today the sun will rise. The Earth will turn on its axis and rotate around the sun. People will continue to work, learn, and live their lives. Some will go home to safe houses come the end of the day. Others will not. Some will have access to abundant food supplies while others will go hungry. Some will solve problems peacefully, and others will resort to violence. In short, we’ll just keep going as a planet. The sun, moon, and earth care nothing for political maps and voting districts, electoral colleges and candidates. The wonder of the universe is that it manages on its own, and it seems to be doing fine.

So let’s follow the lead of the universe. Let’s move ahead, regardless of the results. Let’s look to the sun above us, the needs within us as a people,  and the love around us. It’s a new day, and I’m not missing the robo-calls, tension, snarky Facebook posts, and copious mail bound for the recycling bin.  Smile. Breathe deeply. Move on. We’ll be okay.

Namaste.

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