I went into Tuesday hoping for a landslide victory. Then all would be right with the world and the last four years could be chalked up to one very bad memory. The media seemed to indicate a “blue wave” as a tangible possibility.
As the evening progressed, those hopes were quickly dashed.
Even with vice-president Biden ahead in the race to 270 electoral votes and remaining in the lead ( I know because I woke up twice during the night to check), I felt sadness.
A deep, soul sadness due to the apparent divide our country is experiencing. To me, it is a divide based on fear, racism, homophobia, and hatred.
Is it too late to turn back this tide?
I find myself falling prey to it too. I scowl at a driver in the stereotypical oversized RAM truck with a Trump/Pence bumper sticker on one end and a MAGA hat on the other, hanging from the review mirror.
I view this person as an ignorant, stupid, redneck. Maybe even a white supremacist. My jaw clenches and my eyes narrow as I brace myself against their presence.
This caricature certainly became the poster child for Trump’s base. Is it enough to despise them? Honestly, when I ask myself this question the answer is “maybe”.
I mean, aren’t they human too?
Yes, they are. But they sling rhetoric which discounts my kids and sees them as less than human, immoral, sinners, and on and on. They think nothing to bully, intimidate, and ridicule anyone different than them.
What have my kids done to deserve such hatred? Nothing, except display the courage and bravery to be themselves. You see they identify in a group known as LGBTQ+.
And somehow being yourself and loving who you love, is a threat. Since when is love a threat?
It really all stems from fear. And fear comes from ignorance. It is easy to fear something or someone you do not know.
The unknown can feel threatening. That may even be a primal instinctive reaction. We remain cautious of the unknown to protect ourselves.
So, how do we, as individuals and as a nation get past this fear divide?
Perhaps it is as simple as getting to know each other. We do not fear what we know, right?
Deep down, I believe we all need, share, and want the same things from life. We all want to give and receive love, we all want to be needed, a purpose in life.
We all want security, however we define it, food shelter, a place to lay our head. We all desire to be seen, heard, and most of all needed, to know we matter.
I see, hear, and touch people every day.
I am a massage therapist and as such I see, hear, and touch people every day. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans.
As a general rule, I do not converse in politics while in session but sometimes my clients do, as a way to decompress and let off steam. Anxiety levels seem to be through the roof these days, so the majority of the time it is ok with me.
Yes, some of them may have a different viewpoint. Some I know to be Republicans and very conservative. But by and large, the speech remains civil. If they do feel I or my kids are condemned to hell, they keep it to themselves.
The thing is, as each of them lay on my table, I no longer view them as liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing, just a human with tight muscles and a few knots here and there.
So, I have to ask myself, if my massage room can become a safe space for civil discourse, why cannot we carry that out into the world? And as the late John Lennon sang, “give peace a chance”?
Perhaps the conversation between my clients and me leave both of us with increased understanding, and I truly hope, a bit more compassion for one another.
Maybe the dialogue does nothing at all.
But what I do know is this; I will continue to see the good and humanity in them. I hope they see it in me. Bridging this chasm might just begin within ourselves. Each one of us has the ability to heal the divide.
Now I need to work on seeing the humanity in that guy driving the RAM truck with the MAGA hat on backward.
This might take some work.