Is the election to end all elections finally over? By the time you read this piece, it should be. Or better yet, let’s all hope it is. We’ve lived through one of the most contentious elections in history although many other political battles, particularly early on in our country’s history, were also quite combative. However, living in this moment, it’s safe to say this one beats all most of us have experienced in our lifetime, at least in the United States.
So what now? It’s time to regroup, pull together and move forward. Making sure I use all of the clichés available, this may be “easier said than done.” We’re all well aware, unless you’ve been “living under a rock”, of the polarization of our society over the past few years but polarization is one thing, while anger, nastiness and incivility is another. And no matter which candidates you support, no matter how strongly you feel, nor how vehemently you oppose the other side’s point of view, I truly hope we can do what we always have done in the past and let “bygones be bygones” as we accept the “will of the people” and embrace the values of our democracy for the “greater good” of us all.
While many will argue the results and the implications of what comes next, we need to “let the dust settle” and find “common ground” to do what is best; not only for ourselves but for others and our country. Understanding the United States is not necessarily “all it can be”, we are, nonetheless, “all in this together” and, I hope, willing to “take a deep breath, look into our hearts” and do our individual parts to bring back civility, bring back cooperation and bring back respect for one another. To do less not only does not move us forward but holds us back.
There’s “no time like the present” to “do the right thing” and pull together for the benefit of all—in fact, we can’t wait. Feeling that much damage has already been done, we need to “give it a rest” and understand the role each of us plays in helping to make this happen—from day to day interactions with one another to the manner in which we approach our work, our leaders and our personal lives. It’s time to heal, to restore caring, to restore concern and to be thankful for all we have.
We’re not perfect nor are we “going to hell in a handbasket.” However, if you’re around long enough, you get to see the cycle of history—“what goes around, comes around”—again and again. And if we don’t learn from the past, we’re “doomed to repeat it.” Simply put, this won’t be the last of such contentiousness, but perhaps if we make it personal by deciding that even though we may disagree, even though we’re far apart on many issues, the ultimate win for us is also a win for others and our country, then perhaps we can move the issue of civility closer to what should be the norm.
There will be those who disagree, as always. We can’t worry about them. We can only be responsible for ourselves and our actions, not for others. Thus, “there’s no time like the present” to start making a difference. It’s time to “get our heads in the game” and make a difference. And what better time than the Thanksgiving season—a time when we pause to give thanks for all we have.
“Are you with me or against me?” Will you be “part of the problem or solution?” As I like to say, “it’s up to you!”
-John Porter, ACT President & CEO, here pictured on a Capital Bikeshare bike.
Special thanks to the Alexandria Times for publishing John's monthly column.