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Elissa Stein Headshot

We're All in This Together

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I've had that line, a lyric from a High School Musical song, stuck in my head for days (apologies if it's now stuck in yours). Watching the Sandy relief effort unfold, both from far away -- we left our powerless, waterless, heatless downtown NYC apartment after the storm -- to seeing grassroots fliers and local donation drives taking place in lobbies and schools and yoga studios and restaurants when we got back, I'm in awe at people's willingness to help. To appreciate what they have and pay it forward to help those very many who are far less fortunate at the moment.

To work together.

Sandy was an equalizer and it didn't matter whether you were on food stamps, lived in a riverfront penthouse, were urban or suburban, what race you were, what religion you practiced, whether you were elderly or in preschool. It didn't care if you missed dialysis or chemo, if you had surgery scheduled or a vacation planned. If you were on the second floor of a beach house or on the 37th floor of a midtown high-rise.

If you were a Republican or Democrat.

It destroyed and changed lives across every socio-economic border there is.

As countless people across the country are coming together to work, to donate, to rebuild destroyed homes, to find shelter for the newly homeless, to get schools back in session, to gather supplies and clothing, to feed those without, to provide medical attention, to fix power outages, to get restore heat and hot water as the temperatures drop, what matters is the effort, the intent to change things for the better.

To help those in need.

And while I'm grateful in times of crisis we can put aside the divisiveness that permeates our country, especially during election time, I'm wondering how it got this rancorous and why it needs to be. The president doesn't run one political party, he runs the country. Congress doesn't represent just the people who voted for them, they represent everyone in their districts. Senators work for their state, not for people only of one political persuasion.

Or, at least that's how it should be.

Not meaning to oversimplify or generalize, I imagine many if not most of us want the same things: a roof over our heads, good jobs, security for the future, food and clothing, education for our children, health care when we're not well.

It's not that complicated.

Maybe it's time to take a step back from the finger-pointing and lying, the accusations and fear mongering, the divisiveness and enmity to see that maybe it doesn't just have to be in times of crisis for compassion and community to take the front seat.

We're all in this together.