State of our World

It Was the Best of Times. It Was the Worst of Times.

Which is it? Depends on who’s talking. Half the U.S. is jubilant today.  The other half is devastated. Some of the disappointed voters even threaten to move to Canada, where  ironically, they will find same sex marriage, a single payer national healthcare system, and abortion on demand. I’m just sayin’…. 

Our planet is in great trouble and if we keep carrying old grudges and do not work together, we will all die.  –Chief Seattle

The truth is that it doesn’t really matter who won the presidential election yesterday, unless we can quit demonizing those who don’t agree with us and work together.

Picture two enemies in a canoe arguing about the best technique for paddling, or even trying to knock the paddles out of each other’s hands, as the canoe is swept downstream towards a waterfall. That’s what our polarized partisanship reminds me of.

Don’t fight a battle if you won’t gain anything by winning.  –General Patton

Tuesday’s win will be a hollow victory if the real danger to America is not addressed.  The real danger is not the deficit or terrorists. The real danger is our refusal to see that we rise or fall together. When Hurricane Sandy laid waste to the East Coast, first responders did not ask a victim’s party affiliation before offering help, and victims did not vet their saviors for political correctness.

Years ago, when two of my daughters were gridlocked in bitter hostility, I, in desperation, offered to pay them each a dollar a day to get along.  I didn’t care anymore if they liked each other, or if their overtures were sincere.  I cared that the fighting stop. Here was the catch: they would have to earn the dollars as a team. They either both got the dollars or neither did. I was the decider, and there was no appeal.

The amazing thing was that although their initial efforts were only superficially civil, the pattern was broken, and it wasn’t long before they really were working together toward a common goal. Did disagreements still arise? Of course.  But they quickly shifted to cooperative solution mode rather than getting all churned up in their previous blame/attack mode.

Again, I’m just sayin’….

We have seen the enemy and he is us.  –Pogo

There is nothing like watching the election returns with a friend who comes from a communist country to put things in perspective. As I spent the evening trying to explain what was happening to someone for whom the whole concept of voting is unfamiliar, I could see the process from an outside perspective.

True, in her country there are not billions of dollars spent on campaigns, and government policies can change without endless debate and years of court challenges. But as I listened to her amazement that people could voice their opinions so freely, and her disbelief that those numbers on the screen represented individual votes that were actually being counted, I felt blessed.

People with clenched fists cannot shake hands.  –Indira Gandhi

Maybe you feel blessed, too. So I invite us all to consider how we participate in and how respond to our electoral process. Although our system is based on a win/lose model, no one really wins unless we all win. Instead of all the vitriol and gloating, I invite us all to find someone who voted for “the other guy” and extend an open hand.  More important, I invite us all to extend an open mind.

From this house, to the world, we will go, hand in hand.  The way of peace, the way of freedom, the way of hope, from this house, to the world we will go, hand in hand.  –Ben Allaway

[Note to my friends from other countries: I try to write about things that will be of universal appeal. This post is clearly about the U.S. presidential election, but I hope that there is something here that you might find relevant on a broader scale. Thanks for reading.]



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About the Author: Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong.

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