I voted, and now along with the rest of the country I‘ll be holding my breath today, waiting to see who won the presidential election. No matter the outcome, I think my overwhelming feeling will be relief that it’s finally over. It’s been a really emotional and divisive—and sometimes really vicious—campaign. The most extreme groups in each party seem to be living in completely alternate realities, where different rules apply. It’s truly shocking to me that some people refuse to look for any kind of common ground. I guess elections are always a bit like that.
Maybe I’m feeling more frustration and incomprehension this time because I’m different than I was before. I’m a mother of two girls, ages five and eight. I’m teaching them—and I’m making conscious choices in my own life—to approach others with honesty and love and empathy. I want my girls to stand up for what they believe in, but also to really listen to the other side—to work together to fix the world we all live in.
I especially want them to know—no matter our political affiliation or group of choice or economic circumstances or whatever—we’re all just people. Like it or not, we can’t escape this ultimate fact: we’re all in this life thing together. And it’s short. There’s precious little time for fighting.
Even the work I do is with an organization that promotes empathy, open communication, creative problem-solving and conflict resolution skills—all admirable qualities that seem lacking, to various degrees, in the political campaigns on both sides. Such, it would seem, is the nature of politics. Is it naive and idealistic for me to believe that we can change that? If not my generation, then maybe my girls will be the ones to do it.
Still, though, no matter how I feel about politics in general—it’s exciting to be part of a democracy. It’s exciting to vote and make my voice heard. And nothing says, ‘we’re all in this together,’ quite like standing in line for two hours with your fellow citizens, no matter who’s voting for whom.
This morning my eight-year-old daughter, always fair-minded, told me she’s voting for Romney because he hasn’t had a turn yet and Obama’s already been the president for a really, really long time.
Which is pretty democratic of her, if you think about it.
© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2012