Monday, November 3, 2008

Divided We Stand

One day left until the election; I cannot wait. Certainly, the election will decide a number of important issues, but I am ready for people to get back to normal. Elections seem to bring out the suppressed zealotry latent in many of us. Throughout the campaign, the political-faithful have become more and more religious in their advocacy for their candidate. As the election draws closer, and the prognosticators louder, I can’t help but wonder what will happen on Wednesday morning. Will we know who the forty-fourth President will be, or will we re-live the nightmare (and embarrassment) of the 2000 election? Assuming there is a clear winner, how will he mend the ideological rift dividing the country? Politics, after all, is religion to many. Religious beliefs drive their vote, and those who profess agnosticism or atheism hold their political beliefs just as dearly as their pious brethren. With so many harsh utterances on both sides of the aisle, can we heal from the campaign?

In short, yes, of course. We are Americans, and Americans know how to roll-up their sleeves and get to work. We will be sore from the battle, but we must be unified in our goal of getting this nation back on the track to prosperity and peace. The divisions that separate our two major political parties will remain, and in that sense, there will be schism still. But, by loving our neighbors (even if their yard sports a sign that differs from that of our bumper sticker), and treating each human being with respect and graciousness, we can heal.


David Hutchinson said...

Oh, I agree that it is good that citizens of the United States of one political persausion should not rise in rebellion against the nation to protest the victory of a candidate of the other persuasion. But I also think that that is the most we can or should hope for in terms of social comity.

The problem with 'all working together to put this nation back on the right track' and other such sentiments is that they assume a load of antecedent agreements that do not in fact exist (e.g. A thinks the nation has been on the right track; C and D think it hasn't but disagree at to which alternate track to pursue). To resolve extent disagreements by broadening the definitions of the terms in the sentiment is to arrive belatedly to the baseline social requirement that we simply accept the results of the election, and to empty the sentiment of all meaning.

Also, while I appreciate the generosity of spirit that produces such use, I dissent from the use of the word 'heal' where there has been no physical injury.

Kelly J. Bozanic said...

Dave, to hearken us back to our criminal law class, "sticks and stones may break our bones, but words do permanent damage." Healing need not be confined to the physical. (Cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14 .)

Of course, when the results come in, our social welfare dictates that we must accept them. My feeling is that while we may accept them, disunity will remain, and it is at that point which the sentiments have strength. We do have a choice: work together or not. Perhaps you think working together is the only option, maybe it should be, but I don't think everyone feels that way. No matter which party prevails tomorrow, a large percentage of the nation will not have voted for him. Total consensus is nearly always unobtainable, but choosing to reach out, act respectfully and with civility towards those we formerly opposed is empowering.

Perhaps you view my sentiments as too idealistic, you might be right. But, I see no other choice. I want to hope for the best.

David Hutchinson said...

Ooh, a citation! I submit.

In fact I agree words can do permanent damage, which is why I object to too catholic a useage of the word 'heal'.

It seems to me, once outside the context of a lifeboat where everyone has oars or some similar predicament, saying we need to 'work together' is not so much idealistic as meaningless (certainly when applied to a country of better than 300 million souls whose earliest European settlers came here largely to be free of such enthusiasms). What we have to do is tolerate (not a dirty word) eachother and observe those requirements of the social compact that sustain us as a discrete national entity. In America that means in addition we subscribe to the American creed; we are, afterall, the ideological nation.

Kelly, I am of the belief that, confronted with Oprah Winfrey, you would move in for a hug. Whereas I, quite correctly, would run away. But I do think the world is better off with more of your type and fewer of mine.