Over the course of the past year, I’ve unabashedly opined about my political leanings on social media. I’ve written about my preference for left-of-the-left politicians and stances. I’ve written about my own wrestle with and ultimately emergence of support for the 2016 Democratic candidate for president. I’ve done my best to listen to both sides and everything in between. I’ve done my best to think openly but logically about the next right thing that ought to be done for this blessed country. I’ve voted. And now I’ve been outvoted.
My theories on the tidal shift/underlying reality of American political persuasions could – but probably shouldn’t – fill books. I could point fingers, but I’m rapidly running out of fingers with which to point. At this moment, I’m left alone in a room with one person to blame, or praise, or challenge. That person is me. I’ve wondered throughout this strange and hazy day what I could have done better, what I did right, and what I need to do now. I’ll keep wondering, but I’ve realized that I can’t, meanwhile, stop moving. I can’t stop emoting, or speaking, or helping, or working, because there are people who can’t afford to do any of those things. Some of those people may very well have voted against their self interests in our most recent election. Or perhaps they didn’t. I want to say that time will tell, but I’ve realized that time doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.
There exists in this global age a juxtaposition: a sense that we are not all connected, that we are not at all the same, and that because we have more in common with some than we do with others, we do not all belong in the same room, the same country, or the same planet. I believe that we’re wrong. I believe that the care of the earth, the welfare of those unable to care for themselves, and the plain old getting through every next day is a responsibility that we all share, regardless of the effort each of us chooses to put into it. I believe that responsibility was instilled in us from the moment we, each of us, were born. I believe that it came from someplace. I believe that we are more than an individualized sense of survival, self-preservation, or the pursuit of our own satisfaction. I believe that we have both the capacity and the obligation to lift one another up. I believe this because I’ve seen it embodied. I’ve seen people overcome themselves for the benefit of one another. I’ve seen people sacrifice their comfort to fight for those they’ve never even met. It exists. No matter how much you or I may try to prove it false, it is true.
If you saw it, you’d believe it as well. And so it’s my job to show it to you.
My grandfather used to say this thing that didn’t make a ton of sense to me. He’s gone now, but that thing makes more sense today than it ever did before. “Right feelings follow right actions.” My aunt Peg translated it eloquently for me a few years ago: “Keep on going, doing the right thing, even if you’re bluffing. Sooner or later, you won’t have to bluff.” And right now, today, I have to admit that I’m masking a real heartache when speaking to people who had a hand in creating and activating the current president-elect. But I’ve promised to listen to them, despite my own dread and disbelief and bone-deep sadness, because it’s the right thing to do. One of these days, I hope that it yields something resembling a solution for at least one broken thing in this world. I hope. For some real reason, I hope.
This – what I’m writing here – isn’t about an election, a government, or a country. And this – what you’re feeling now – needn’t be about you. This is about waking up each morning and doing the next right thing. For people you love and for people you don’t yet love. Even if you’re bluffing.