Election night came as a shock to me, as it did to many other people. How could this person, who exhibited no sign of culture or civilized behavior, who had been spewing vitriol at almost everybody, except other vitriol spewers, and towards whom I felt gut-prompted physical recoil even more than a mental disagreement – how could this person win? One of my fellow election night watchers burst into sobs as the result became evident.
I am not known for being “politically correct.” I do not consider “progressive” to be holy writ, nor do I give the term “staunch conservative” the status of sacred tradition. I tend to land somewhere in the middle, and to speak out, often bluntly offending the sensitivities of both polarized sides. This election has obliterated the middle ground, sundering our nation into two polarized and warring camps. I can only hope we do not devolve into civil conflict.
In 1982, Dark Crystal, a perhaps prescient film, one ahead of its time, premiered. Through the medium of animation, it tells the story of a deep division in the world, symbolized by a fractured crystal. The parallel to now is striking. It is not new or old; it is timeless. I recommend viewing it, if at all possible. Then, discuss it.
The truth is that we need the right and the left, the progressive and the conservative. Listening to each other without recrimination, opening to the expectation that some of what the other avers may actually be valuable, is the key to healing our rift and finding middle ground. If we cannot do that, then our nation is indeed in trouble, even in danger of ceasing to exist as a democracy. We need to incorporate the idea of being our brother’s keeper, to question how our own beliefs can accommodate the needs and values of each other. Forcing people to become righteously left or stalwartly right does not work. It has brought us to where we are now.
This election has been a wake-up call. It is up to us where we go from here. Can we heal our nation and ourselves? May we wake up in time.