Tomorrow we are going to take a break. A brief respite from the fiery, dangerous, dense ball of gas that seems to be ever present. We enjoy its heat from time to time, but too much of it wears us out, and can cause irreparable long term damage. The absence will feel strange to many.
I’m not talking about the sun, but the political divisiveness that has engulfed this country. It seems to be the worst it has ever been. People are losing sleep and getting illnesses because of it. Families and friendships have been fractured by it. For some, their entire identities are becoming defined by it.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We are making choices to make it this way. We can also make the choice to turn around, and make our way closer to a place where we can have disagreements while maintaining respect.
When Americans put focus on their commonalities and mutual interests, the beauty of it can be overwhelming. For example, during World War Two, people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, political parties, etc., put away those differences to form the greatest and most diverse team ever assembled. In doing so, they defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Thank God they did.
When they wildly celebrated their victory it was not just for them, but they understood the impact of their triumph for people like us. People who they would never meet, many decades later. They danced with, hugged, and kissed strangers. They didn’t first say, “ But did you vote for Roosevelt”?
After the horrible attacks of September 11, people all across the country did amazing things to help others. All across the country, people opened their homes to travelers stranded by the grounding of airplanes. Blood banks had lines for hundreds of yards in which people would wait for hours just so they could feel like they were helping. People lined the streets to cheer for the police and firemen heading to ground zero to try to rescue people. Every member of congress joined hands to sing, “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol.
Need a reminder? take a few seconds and watch either or both:
It doesn’t always take a war or national tragedy to bring us together.
There have been moments of achievement that have transcended our personal differences. People all across the land celebrated the finishing of the transcontinental railroad, landing on the moon, the first transatlantic flight, and so on.
Think about the Olympics for a second. We pull together to cheer for the Red, White, and Blue. We all get goose bumps when the arenas get the “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A” chants going. No one says, “I can’t root for that goalie, she’s a snowflake” or, “I’m going to cheer for all the players, except the ones who voted for Trump.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more moments of unity, and less fighting. Especially if it didn’t take a bunch of people dying for us to remember how great we can be together?
Tomorrow, we will all take a much need recess. We will stare towards the sky with the wonderment of children. We will be reminded of how short our time is in the grand scheme. That sun and moon have been around a lot longer than us, and will continue to be. We will all feel small together.
No one will care who the person next to them voted for.
If you have jumped into the recent political fray with both feet, that is okay. We need passionate people with big brains and big hearts to be in the discussion now more than ever. But we can’t let it ruin us.
Perhaps we can use tomorrow’s solar eclipse as an opportunity to rekindle those relationships that have been damaged by the political climate of the past year. Maybe it can be used as an opportunity to reach out to that person who used you used to be close with, but now define by their facebook posts.
Maybe you can get together with them to view the eclipse, or maybe you can just reach out to them to embrace a shared moment. Maybe you could just send theme a message that might say something like, “Wow, that eclipse is going to be something else tomorrow…..I hope you and your family enjoy it!”
You could remind them of your compassionate side, “Hey, just checking to make sure you had a pair of eclipse glasses. We’ve got a few extra over here.”
Or you could just share grumpiness with them instead instead of against them for once, “This traffic sucks, I can’t wait for all these people to go home!”
Appreciate tomorrow will be a special time where we can all put away our differences and share something enchanting and magical, together. We don’t get that feeling too often anymore, but we must remember that it doesn’t have to be that way.