Through The Looking Glass
Sometimes at night, when I find myself not able to stay asleep, I lay awake pondering the year we’re in.
This messy year, the start to a new decade forever marked by a global pandemic, a year with seemingly no end, but whose end is nearer than where we started.
We’ve been through a lot in 2020. Down the rabbit hole we all went during COVID-19, and we’re still in the thick of it.
Coincidentally, this happened during an election year in America.
Was it to unearth the impossible inequality so easily forgotten when we move quickly from one place to another in our hurried, busy lives?
Was it to show us that 100 million people and counting living at or below poverty level cannot work anymore — that millions of children who experience food insecurity every day and night is unacceptable in one of the wealthiest countries on earth?
Was it to consider new ways of voting and electing leaders?
Was it to show us collectively who and what we are and where we need to grow?
It’s all of the above and more.
And yet, we still live deeply in the land of anger and fear. Here’s an experiment to try. Tune into CNN and FOX, examples of diverse and radically different perspectives, replete with running monologues of opinion every night.
If you do this for a few days, you clearly see the contours of election themes taking shape, and the platform for Democrats and Republicans in the run up to November.
That should be one of our bigger concerns in this messy COVID-19 election year. Why?
There’s no movement, no growth in our political discourse. It’s angry, broken and fueled by stagnant energy, ideologies, simmering fury that underscores fear and rage. It’s volatile, and unstable.
This anger, difference of opinion is not new; it’s not just the story of our time, we know that. We’ve been a collection of people with oppositional beliefs since our founding; fighting for a better way of being, living and governing, experimenting — succeeding and failing along the way.
Why should it be any different in 2020?
Because to be resigned — that we will always be a divided nation— is to give up on the better angels of our nature so famously enshrined in President Lincoln’s first inaugural address:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” — Abraham Lincoln
America may be a lot of things unseemly to those who pity us around the globe, but one thing remains true about this country: we are a tenacious lot. Not willing to give up readily, we rise to the occasion to tackle seemingly insurmountable hills.
If we can collectively agree that we’re not willing to give up on one another during a pandemic, nor an election year, then what should be our North Star now, in present time, that guides us on our path forward?
An acceptance of hard truths.
Accepting that we have to move on from narrowly defined political lanes, rise above them and redefine them.
This is a year that needs to be about addressing unemployment, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the great depression.
It’s a year that needs to be about fixing a broken supply chain and making more products in America.
It’s a year that means finding new therapeutics and a safe vaccination solution to eradicate threats of COVID-19.
It means following public health guidance on how to reopen our states safely, knowing the livelihood of millions of Americans is at stake, from the salon owner who needs to pay bills, to those afraid to enter salons for fear of catching the virus because businesses are reopening sooner than they believe should be.
There needs to be room for all these concerns no matter who you vote for. We need leaders this election year willing to hold a wide angle lens, to see many sides of an argument and find a third way, a better way.
Unfortunately, from Democratic and Republican parties, we’re not seeing enough of these leaders — nor are we seeing these kinds of journalists reporting the news.
If the other side of a famous looking glass contained an alternate universe, we surely landed there this year. And like any alternate universe, we’re being given an opportunity to see things very differently.
Will we act on this, heeding the lessons of what we’re being asked to learn right now, knowing strategies of the past don’t work anymore?
Or will we stay the course, with the same base infighting until November 3rd and beyond?
The answers lie within all of us. We need to find a different way forward.