“It’s not whether you win or lose,” the saying goes, “but how you play the game.”
This comment is usually offered to the side that didn’t win.
I avoid writing about politics because, given the state of the union, I could easily offend half of you. Please know that is not my intention.
My intention is to write my way out of the aftermath of a game played with so much disrespect and lack of decency that I feel gutted, traumatized, and heartbroken. Not just because of who won or lost but because of how we played the game.
Families, cities, states were divided in what felt like a civil war, except that there was nothing civil about it. Things were said, threats were made, and stunts were pulled that may work for reality TV, but as the foundation of our reality is truly terrifying.
I want to believe nobody voted for discrimination, exclusion, or hatred. I have to believe we all voted for what we believe in and who we thought could best bring about the change we seek.
But voting is not something we do with our heads. It’s a primal thing we do with our hearts. Sadly, we can’t fact check the unspoken fears that live in our hearts because in order to control them, we kept them hidden.
Consequently, no one can predict their power at the polls until they surface and surprise us from ballots cast across the country in the privacy and anonymity of a voting booth or safety of our homes.
Clearly, we are unhappy. We are stressed. We are tired of government meddling in our affairs. We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
But we also have so much to be grateful for. We have come so far on so many fronts. We seem to have lost sight of that in our rage against the machine and each other.
It’s easy to blame others for our discontent. But when we point a finger at someone else, four are pointing back at us. We can project the blatant bad behavior on to others, but if we recognize it in others and are willing to be brutally honest with ourselves, eventually we recognize it in ourselves as well.
Because happiness is an inside job, we have to start with the man or woman in the mirror. When we abdicate our own power, we open the door to bullies who are more than willing to use it against us.
While we cannot control what bullies do or say, we can control how we respond. And that response determines how we move forward.
You can add fuel to the fire of fear, anger, and hatred or you can practice peace, compassion, and decency.
As Stephen Colbert suggested, you can “get back to your life.” And in doing so, recommit to living consciously, intentionally, and with as much love and integrity as you can possibly muster.
It won’t be easy. Especially if you are discouraged, afraid, or otherwise disenfranchised. But I promise you, the world needs your light. When one of us shines brightly, we all do.
I wish our country didn’t need to go to the extremes it did for the past year to collectively learn the lessons this election offered up.
Mistakes were made. Assumptions were interpreted as facts. Unprecedented incivility was unleashed. A lot was at stake and lines were crossed that, as a country, we’ll have a hard time recovering from.
Playing the game this way has left us all bruised and battered.
As we move forward, I hope we will be kind to one another. I hope we can realize we are all fighting the good fight and, despite our differences, we have more that unites us than divides us.
In the days to come I wish you the kind of courage that allows you to speak up, act on your beliefs, cope with challenges, and carry on with conviction. Doing so sets us all free.
I’d love to hear how you will share your light in the comments below.