Not sure if you heard-but there was recently an election here in the U.S. If you haven’t heard, I am completely jealous of you and your lifestyle and could I please come visit ? I bet you are a really serene, happy American or live abroad and are a serene and happy person there.
My candidate didn’t win. I’m disappointed (which is putting it mildly) but I’m not moving out of the country. You’d have to drag me out of Minnesota let alone the U.S. I am also very surprised at the outcome but I blame my own denial about the America I thought I lived in. I.had.no.clue. I also hope and pray I am dead wrong about the President elect. If the ship goes down…we are all on the same ship and I won’t root for that. Ever.
I have considered that the true travesty of this election could be that marijuana wasn’t legalized everywhere in this great nation because I sense growing bipartisan support for a deep collective inhale followed by a super long stretch of “Let us all calm the hell down.” Maybe that’s just me.
My mind has been in a tailspin. I really am interested in talking to people (50% of Americans estimates say) who didn’t vote and hear their opinions on why they didn’t participate in voting and their views on the outcome. But I need a break from the talking. I need a break from social media, media, and talking to people about the election.
This one, it’s over.
I have been trying to sort out what I should do, if anything. There are many options but many of them just aren’t resonating with me. So I had chosen to do nothing until I found the right thing. Media coverage offers numerous examples of possible action. Sign a petition. Wear a safety pin. Attend a protest. Write to local legislatures. Wear a t-shirt. Donate to a cause. Donate to a cause that the other side opposes. Get involved in local elections. Join a like-minded group.
And then, I figured something out. I made a tiny shift in my own headspace. I figured it out at a Boy Scouts event. Yeah. This is very ironic, since I find Boy Scouts to be an avalanche of red tape and paperwork with a patriarchal 1950’s attitude about a lot of things. It’s not my deal. Sometimes wisdom develops in the unlikeliest of places.
The Boy Scouts had a raking event at a house in the area. The homeowner had recently undergone surgery and the boys (who need service hours) were going to rake and bag leaves from a substantial yard for a few hours. I stayed to help and oversee (with 2 other parents) because with that many boys ages 11-15, it felt it would be further pain and suffering for the homeowner to manage that whole circus. Boys that age can be absolute squirrels. They raked. They bagged. They wrestled. They pretended the trailer needed leaf crushing (which consisted of them jumping in and smashing them down over and over again). They took breaks and leaned on their rakes. They fought over the leaf blower. They asked if they were done. They weren’t. They raked more. They picked up sticks. They stole each others hats and flung them into the trees. They cleaned out the gutter. They worked together and pulled heavy tarps from the backyard to the front yard over and over again. And so did I.
Three hours later and the job was finished. The yard was not perfect but it was better. The needs of the homeowner were met. The result exceeded his expectations. I daresay, the boys had some fun.
And it hit me. I want my country to be the best it can be for my children and children in general. I am only here for a blink of an eye and it won’t be perfect in my lifetime or otherwise. America is imperfect as it is composed of imperfect humans. There will never be a candidate that I agree with 100%. Sometimes I disagree with myself. Sometimes I change my mind. I had thought it was important that my children see me fight for what I believe in. I thought it was important to have my kids fight for what is right. I thought we were fighting for good. But…I don’t want to fight for it. I want to work for it.
I want to work for good.
I want them to see me work for good.
I want them to work for good.
Fighting feels like getting a huge group of like minded people together to convince another group of like minded people that they are wrong. Fighting is also easy. I can quickly gather a group of middle-aged white women in MN with Master’s degrees and two car garages and fight for or against something. Trust me. We could take somebody down and still be home in time for lunch.
My children can’t feel me donate or sign a petition or write my legislature. They might not get it if I walk in a protest or attend some meetings or post political articles. It’s the old “Don’t worry that your kids aren’t listening, worry that they are watching.” My children are watching. All the children are watching. I am committed to setting a good example. They can watch me serve. Serve neighbors, friends, family. I can work with other people of all different race, class, religion and creed and they need to see it. They can and do and will serve alongside me. They can watch me exercise restraint in my words yet still employ miniumum standards of behavior for others in my life as well. I expect them to do the same. They can watch me work out plans to include and empower and stand up for others that doesn’t involve ire. They can help. Let our service spread good and love like a wildfire.
Some of my best work so far is them. No election and certainly no singular individual in Washington could ever cause me to give up working for their good or the greater good.