Twelve months ago, after spending a week making calls, knocking on doors, and getting people to the polls, we boarded a plane headed home from Florida, ready for the world to change.
And, boy, did it.
To say I was wrong is an understatement. Hell, back in March of last year, I even came to this very platform to boast about Hillary Clinton’s predictable path to the White House. And my hubris didn’t stop there. Later, in October, I put together this quasi-data journalism piece to make the case that the majority of us were going to have to console a duped minority of voters on how we could peacefully coexist as we continued our progress toward a more perfect union.
The smugness, in retrospect, is appalling. What’s even worse is that the numbers I used in that piece were cherry-picked to support a conclusion I wanted to be true. That’s not how this is supposed to work. But I was more concerned with being able to say “I told you so” the day after the election that I wasn’t willing to admit “I don’t know” beforehand.
My prejudices were driven as much by arrogance as they were by ignorance. Admitting that there’s much I don’t know was the first step toward discovering exactly where those gaps are and starting a journey to fill them. It’s not just a quest of curiosity, though. It’s a path from knowledge to wisdom, putting what I know into practice to help improve the lives of those around me.
If you’re willing to take that first simple step with me — admitting there are people who know something I don’t and exchanging what I know with them in a mutually beneficial sharing of ideas — we can expand our wealth of experience to build a more understanding humanity. Or, to put it more simply:
What can we teach each other?
Creating a greater understanding, in its broadest definition, is what we should be striving for: understanding of the complex, understanding of the unknown, understanding of each other.
Typing this today, the day after off-year elections in places like New Jersey and Virginia and Philadelphia, gave me hope. Hope that we can learn from our mistakes. That we can improve. That we are the country I thought we were when we elected Barack Obama. Twice.
Those wins didn’t just happen, though. They took time and money and effort. And I’m urging you, between now and the mid-terms, to remember what yesterday’s rebuke felt like, and to do something — maybe one thing, maybe five — every day between now and Tuesday, 06 November 2018, to elect the people who really represent us. And then, vote.