In the month that leads up to an Election Day, people always seem to be eager for the campaign season to end. Most years, I hear complaints about TV commercials and telephone calls. This year I’m not hearing that, because of course this is not most years.
This campaign has struck and unsettled and energized and annoyed people like none in our lifetime. We’ve forgotten that little things like televised campaign ads used to get under our skin. Today there are so many more, so much more worrisome things to bother us.
This year we’ve got mistrust and vulgarity and too many scandals to keep track of. We’ve got each side thinking the other will actually, literally destroy the country. We’ve got serious division between neighbors, friends, and family.
I feel like we’re undergoing a collective suffering. (Which, if it came from anything other than our division, might grow into a unifying experience. But no such luck on this one.)
This is all to say: I understand why people want to be done with this thing.
I understand why I’m seeing person after person complain on-line and in-person that they wish people would just stop talking about it. They want their Facebook newsfeeds to return to kids and puppy dogs. They want politics to stop encroaching on their neighborly conversations.
I get it.
But honestly, I don’t think we deserve that. I think we deserve to feel uncomfortable right now.
I don’t mean that as some sort of a punishment, some sort of Catholic guilt thing. (And I should probably find a better word for what I mean than “deserve.”) I just think that we should be present. We should inhabit the time in which we live. We should be attuned to the reality of our day, and today’s reality is uncomfortable.
I think this is a good time for challenging our own complacency, for praying, for considering what we really want for our country. And if we don’t want to be in this awful position again, this is a good time to think on how we can affect change.
As somebody who is naturally interested in politics, I know I’m biased here. But as the collective mood moves toward despair and avoidance, I worry: What will we solve if we shut it all out? How can we deal with a situation that we place off to the side, wanting not to think about it?
I firmly believe that at the core of it all – underneath all the scandal and intrigue and calcified factions – we still live in a great democracy. It’s under there somewhere. It has good bones.
We have the power to form our government into something we can be proud of. So let’s pay attention, let’s think, let’s chew, let’s work. (Let’s not tell ourselves that none of this matters.) Let’s point our minds and our energies towards the good. Let’s attempt the politics we really want.
I have some ideas as to what I can do. Do you?
This post is part of a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on my personal blog, These Walls, on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.