Election 2008: What We Can Do For Our Country

12/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"And now the work begins," wrote Dr. Maya Angelou in "Commencement Address." Her words have never rung more true than today. With two years of Election P.T.S.D., now, thankfully, behind us, we must begin anew. Not easy with our adrenals spent from, what seemed, an endless trail of political attacks/counter attack footprints on both side of the fence, a never-ending war, a heating up in the Middle East, plus the Wall Street Roller Coaster indicating a global fiscal crisis that will not end anytime soon. Add to this, the ever-rising unemployment rate. Oh, yes, and then there is the approach of the holiday season.

As I anticipated this week's column, it became apparent that the task before me was to anticipate two outcomes. In scenario one, Obama wins. All votes, fairly counted. No last minute surprises. In scenario #2, McCain slides across home plate, defying the polls, and calling into question all sorts of things. Either way, somebody isn't happy. And so, in this uncertainty, one certainty began to rise up from the ashes of 'what's gone down.' It is simply this: like the graduates Angelou was addressing, we of this country are faced with the challenge of finding the "...outstanding courage to invent this moment...." In her text, she goes on to add: "...You must be asking yourselves, what you will do with it?" So must we.

What will we do with the outcome of Election 2008? Regardless your stance, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we reap what we have sown. Whether we believe this harvest is just or unjust, we must face squarely the question Angelou asks those before her: "...Are you prepared to work to make this country, our country, more than it is today?"

As I look in the mirror, I must be willing to ask myself 'what do you have the courage to invent?
Am I prepared to take whatever action steps I must to repair the terrible split that our country
has endured these past eight years?' Not that political tension is a new thing. But, truth be said, in my over sixty years, I've never felt the same level of animosity, and terror in any political campaign. Yes, politics has been a nasty business for quite some time, it is so. However, I am hard-pressed to recall a time when words like "Kill him!" and "Traitor!" were shouted at political rallies against the opponent, and the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate who had the podium did absolutely nothing to refute such fueling of flames. It has been so widespread, that in the past one week, I've had three people from different countries on either side of our boarders, express pre-election anxiety that if Senator Obama won, they were fearful for his safety. They are not the only ones.

What message are we sending? Whatever happened to "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all...."? When did it get to be okay to utter death threats because someone's point of view on how to unify was different from the hecklers'?

And now the work begins. Reconciliation is not easy. It takes a big person, and an even bigger country to face and admit errors of judgment. We have work to do.

And now the work begins. It takes a big person, and an even bigger country, to extend its 'hand,' across the aisle, across the kitchen table, and across the sea to make right, atone whatever mess we've made.

And now the work begins. It takes a big person, and an even bigger country to lay down the finger of blame, and take an audit. What can we appreciate about those who do not see things our way? Where is our common ground?

As one individual, I do not know how to fix the sizable mess we've got on our hands. All I know for certain is this: we've been through rough times before, and have found solutions. In the toughest times, this country has laid aside its differences, and joined together to ask, as Kennedy once said, 'Not what can my country do for me, but, what can I do for my country?' This is such a time. Only this time, let's substitute for me, I, and my: 'us, we, and our.' What can we do, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even anarchists, for OUR country? What new chapter are we willing to invent together, all differences of color, race, religion, language aside, in order that we, as a humanity begin moving in one direction toward peace, towards compassion, towards resolution, towards that Truth that sets us free?

What I know for certain is that we can do better. What I know for certain is that each and every one of us has a gift that needs giving. What I know for certain is that none of us can solve this thing alone. What I know for certain is that we must do better at learning to work together. What I know for certain is that we have choice, we have a God-given Voice, and we have the creative opportunity to stand up in who we really are, together. Winston Churchill was right. Let it be said of us, "This was our finest hour."

And now the work begins.