I started writing a weekly blog six years ago and I’ve made it a point to avoid politics, but on this historical weekend, I have to make an exception. After so much disappointment, depression, anxiety and dread, we can all exhale. Tears of joy are abundant and we feel relief. But the way I see it, the relief isn’t so much about the idea of winning. This is no time to gloat. We don’t want a continuation of anger and aggression, of name calling and bitterness. Rather, it’s time to put away childish reactions and resentments, to reject violence and pettiness and to celebrate a new leader who cares about the environment, cares that people are dying from a pandemic, who stands up to misogyny and racism and makes it clear that we won’t put up with these things any more. It’s time to listen and find empathy for people with whom we don’t necessarily agree. It’s time to do the hard work of forgiving and wishing each other well.
Whether you are aligned with the current politics or not, we’ve all been broken-hearted. Deep down, most of us don’t want to be at odds with other people. We would rather agree to disagree, to do what that really means. I’m a loyal Democrat but I admire the Lincoln project, a group of Republicans who are dedicated to defeating violence, hate and aggression. They prefer voting for a compassionate candidate in a different political party over someone who cares only for himself, who wants to separate us, not unite us. Who wants to support aggression and turn us against each other. A reporter on MSNBC commented that the current defeated candidate won’t support a peaceful transfer of power in the American tradition . . . because he can’t. It just isn’t in him. But it is in us.
Compassion starts at the top. We need the White House to become the People’s House once again. We need to reconnect with the rest of the world, to forgive each other and move on. We need to witness serenity and strength from a leader who knows the pain of loss and embraces the things that matter to all of us. We have to be human beings first. Let’s take a page out of the playbooks of the late Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia who were diametrically opposed in their political views while they respected each other as people and shared their love of the opera. They opened their hearts to each other and treated each other like they wished to be treated.
Taking heart means looking outward as well as inward. It really isn’t that hard to do. It means thinking about other people and caring how they feel. It means treating others with kindness whether we agree with them or not. It’s about opening our minds enough to be able to see things from someone else’s point of view without resentment. It’s about reaching out and listening and in the Native American tradition, “walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins.” In essence, taking heart means carrying both the unbearable lightness of being and the depth of grief and pain in our hearts and souls that make up the wholeness of every human being.