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Catherine Meeks, Ph.D. Headshot

There Is More to Life Than Politics

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The election is over and some of us feel like winners and others feel like losers, but there is more to our collective lives than politics. We witnessed the demonization of opponents on both sides of the political fence which was offered in the name of the need to do everything possible to win. Though the election is over, many have found it difficult to let it go and to move on to the work before us.

Though I am glad that President Obama was reelected, I can fully understand the sense of grief that the Romneys must feel about their loss. The unwillingness of some to entertain that losing was painful for them demonstrates an unwillingness to understand that all of us are connected human beings and that pain is a universal principal. My wonderful mentor, Dr. Howard Thurman, tells a story that illustrates this point very well. When he was a young boy in Florida, he was hired to rake leaves for a white family. As he raked the leaves their little girl would scatter them again. He kept asking her to stop and she would not. He told her that he would tell her mother if she didn't stop and that did not concern her. Finally he said, "If you don't stop, I will tell your father." She became quite aggravated with him and jerked the large pin from her pinafore and jabbed his hand with it. Dr. Thurman said, "What's the matter with you, have you lost your mind." She said, "What is the matter with you, that didn't hurt, because you can't feel."

When we begin to create a story about our adversaries that does not include their humanity, we dehumanize ourselves just as much as we do them. There is a clear bottom line in this matter. It is this, we are all God's children and we are loved. While many may not believe this, folks of faith and goodwill have no choice but to ponder this fact. There is no way to have a notion of one God who loves us without realizing that all of the folks on the earth are a part of that love connection. When we begin to imagine that some people cannot feel, then we begin to create categories that cannot be supported by reality and we put ourselves into a very limiting box. If we sacrifice our ability to have compassion for another for the sake of a political position, that is a very high price to pay for such a position.

I spent a good bit of time paying attention to my feelings and thoughts during the last election season because I knew that when it was over, I still had to live my life with integrity and commitment to whatever it is that I claim to believe. In some ways it was not going to matter who won because whatever I was called to do as a person of faith and goodwill would still be necessary for me to do. An election was not big enough to change the commitment to the call upon my life to work for peace and harmony on this earth.

So I believe that this is true for everyone in this country. All of us are called to be the best people possible and to work to make our country a place where life can be lived to its fullest for everyone. The mean spirited unwillingness to have compassion for the winners or the losers is an untenable position which leads to supporting the violence and divisiveness that cannot lead us forward in the ways that will benefit all of us. We have become so adept in our ability to create demons and angels. The demons are all of those who do not agree with us and the angels are the ones who agree, what a small and ineffective way in which to view the world.

Although we can take comfort in being with folks who agree with us and help us to maintain some of our favorite positions without much reflection, the reality is simply that we have to find the path to acceptance of the reality that many folks disagree with us about many things. But it seems that the challenge is to remember that we are human beings who are a part of one family and that there are some common threads that bind us together whether we like them or not.

Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, said it very well, "The election is over, let's get on with it." She is right. All of us need to heed her words. We need to hold onto the notion of allowing compassion to rule us instead of politics. We need to stand against the tendency that continues to flow through our country to create demons and angels and seek to build a nation that supports a life of quality for everyone. We need to allow ourselves to experience one another's pain and joy because that helps us to stay connected to being human.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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