“We Are One” vs “We Won”
Where do you stand?
A Message from
Rev Deborah L. Johnson
The heart of democracy is not elections. Democracy’s heartbeat is the on-going conversation, the continuous engagement necessary for self-governance. Elections are merely those times when we pause to read our pulse. We take a moment to synthesize, reorganize, adjust the game plan as necessary, and to call the question when debate is sabotaging action.
Ultimately, elections are not about winning or losing but about making decisions that enable us to travel together. Let us never forget what a tremendous responsibility it is to make decisions that will impact other people’s lives, especially when the decision steers them in directions not of their choosing. The voice of dissent must never be stymied or stifled, particularly after hotly contested elections that felt more like battlefields.
While the wounds are still fresh, the conversations amongst the voters must go on with compassion, conviction, creativity, and even compromise when appropriate. Will we dare to end polarized “otherness”? There is gridlock in Congress because we harbor in our hearts. Politicians fear being punished by their party or their constituents for being too cooperative. Let us unleash a bold new spirit of collegiality.
The Holidays are approaching. When those sweet opportunities present themselves to speak with relatives, friends, or coworkers who have not shared our political perspective or world view, extend an olive branch. Be willing to say to even your most contentious opponent:
“Thank you for your passion and your vision. I realize that it may seem a little scary to you right now, like the world safe and familiar to you is changing. And it is. But know that you are not being sacrificed or excluded in the process. What is emerging has room enough for everyone, including you. Everyone participating – being heard and valued – is what makes a democracy great. Thank you for making your voice heard and for listening.”
Find your own words but remember that unattended wounds fester and the dissension escalates over time. We are all in this together. Give the care and respect that you want to receive. Model the values of justice and harmony. Be brave and be a balm. Let’s walk our talk and dare to be the change.