Like most of you, I’ve watched this election cycle tear people apart. It’s been hard to watch, harder to engage in, and sometimes harder yet to envision how we can possibly get to the other side of it.
Tonight might result in a change of leadership or policy – it might not. Your candidate, party or issues might win – or might not. In a few short hours the networks will be filled with stats, breaking news and expert opinions on the results that everyone is waiting for. But if I’m being honest, I’ve found myself thinking as much about all the things that could go wrong or get worse after the election rather than the election itself. I’ve been thinking about this all wrong.
The talk tracks are already written, minds made up, flashy graphics designed and narratives ready to be spun. Everything will get a label – red or blue, R or D, good or bad, win or lose. We might feel better or worse, more frustrated or inspired, but is that all we are waiting for?
I’m aware of what is at stake. There are important issues at hand, and big problems to solve – but there’s no magic tomorrow regardless of the outcome. Even with record-breaking voter turnout making sure that everyone knows their vote matters, we’re missing one important message for what comes next: What you do matters.
What you do matters – we need your commitment to doing the work.
Regardless of the results, there’s hard work ahead – a lot of it. It’s going to take all of us, it’s going to take time and it’s going to take you and me and your neighbor. Just like you cannot complain if you don’t vote, you cannot opt out of the process that generates the progress.
We need to continue difficult conversations, listen to opposing views and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This part is messy with no clear path, rules or scoreboard, but it’s where the real results happen little by little, person by person.
What you do matters – we need your resilience.
It’s easy to be pessimistic and keep talking about what a shitty year 2020 has been, and then pull out your list to prove it. We all have one by now – I do.
But you know what else is on that list? Resilience, and a lot of it. You likely have endured more than you thought possible, and we will continue to do so. If 2020 has proven anything, it’s not just that we are resilient, but change, real change, is possible. Change and progress is also really hard, but we’ve proven that we’re up for the challenge. Let’s lean in on that.
What you do matters – we need your help to find common ground.
After a year of divisiveness fueled by a global pandemic, there’s been no shortage of loss, fear, anger, and frustration – and the election has only fueled this more. But despite all of that, I’m convinced we will get on the other side of this. I’m convinced…because we have to.
Because there will be no meaningful change if we cannot find some common ground. Witty insults, meaner memes and digging in on your side will not move the other one. We are going to have to learn the art of listening, empathy and be intentional about finding ideas that we can agree upon and build upon.
What you do matters – we need you to take care of yourself too.
The coming days, weeks and probably months are going to continue to be challenging as politics and COVID will likely peak again at the same time creating a similar spike in anxiety, stress and depression..
What may be most important is taking care of yourself. Whether it’s a break from social media, getting outside, having someone to talk to, or finding some silence and stillness – prioritizing self-care is going to be key. You cannot serve others if you are unable to take care of yourself.
I’m aware that not everyone wants peace, love and harmony. There are also those looking to stir the pot, promote hate and divide us – I have no interest in engaging with them. And yes, the country (like most others) will likely be split nearly 50/50 on all major and political issues for years to come, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we have to continue to dig in, disengage or get so discouraged we give up altogether.
With all that’s going on in the world, there’s too much at stake. And believe it or not, we agree on a heck of a lot more than we disagree. I hope we can remember that in the days and weeks ahead as we have another important choice to make – how we respond.
And what you do next, matters most.