As you know by now I have a vegetable garden. I also have a large backyard, something I have never had in the past. This time of year it’s a lot of physical work. Where to start? What are my priorities? How do I overcome obstacles? To make a long story short, last week I came down with some bad poison ivy. It started on my face with a swollen eye, and slowly broke out all over the rest of my body. Each day was a new surprise: my torso, the back of my legs, my back. The doctor had a miracle cure called Prednisone. I’d like to invoke another analogy in this post about our presidential race. Sometimes when I read the news it feels like a poison is spreading all over our country. We are told to hate, to fear, to fight back, and to mistrust. This too is popping up just when you least expect it. The cure is more complicated than a daily pill.
I’m not going to talk about a particular political party or candidate here. What I’m concerned about is the level of polarization and divisions that have come out over the past year. I am disturbed by the lack of manners and how easy it is to attack each other with venom as strong as the rashes and blisters on my body. Some of you who are in middle age of beyond remember when we could disagree and still have a civil conversation. We worked to out ourselves in the other’s shoes and find common ground. I’m not sure why it’s different this cycle or when the time for compromise and collaboration went out the window, but here we are. I don’t have any solutions and I suspect it may get worse before it gets better. A little while ago I wrote about one of my neighbors down the street who made an assumption about me and told me to “go back where I came from” not knowing I lived nearby. We increasingly want to live near people like us and be with people like us. I don’t know what that even means.
As my red rashes start to heal and fade away I wish that everyone who has strong feelings this election season think long and hard about what we have in common and how we can all make things better in our communities and neighborhoods. What will our children think of the hostility and hatred that is daily spewing in the press and the airwaves. It threatens to spill over more permanently into our cultural fiber. I hope you will go to love and compassion as your default. As for me, I hope that this year will bring out some of our best and not our just our worst.
I would like you to ask you to pause when you find yourself going to that dark place and remember that at the end of our day we all want to raise our children well, live full lives, and leave something of ourselves behind that makes our nation a better place.
And don’t forget to vote!