Monday, November 07, 2016

What to do on Election Day

1. If you live in the United States of American and are registered to vote,
then please, please, please vote. 

2. Smile at the volunteers at the voting place.
They are going to be working a long and difficult day tomorrow.
Dealing with many hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters.
Some of whom will be angry and impatient.
Please don't be one of those angry, impatient, and mean voters.
My mother is a volunteer at a voting place here in Charlotte.
So before you think to say something rude or mean or impatient,
remember that the person you will be dealing with is someone's mother or father 
or sister or brother or friend. Someone's significant someone.
Please be respectful. 

3. Be kind to folks who express political opinions that are different from yours.
We are all concerned about this country. 
We may not agree on how to deal with our concerns, but we are one nation.
We are the United States of America.
In the words of Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?"

4. Pray. Pray. Pray.
Light candles.
Burn incense.
Be still and know.
Breathe deep.
Send up smoke signals.
Whatever you do to beckon peace and calm, please do it.
And you don't have to live in the US of A to do any of that.

5. Make plans to reach out in peace to people who know who are on the "other side of the aisle," extending a peaceful hug, handshake, or high five. Truthfully, we need to find ways to cross the aisles, boundaries, borders, and retaining walls that we have constructed during this election cycle - and during the past several presidencies. We need to find ways to cross the moats and gator infested waters that we have constructed around our tribes and clubs and social circles and faith-based enclaves.

Earlier today, I read this hopeful and challenging piece by a woman I met a few years ago,
a gifted writer, a passionate pastor, and an all around compassionate woman, named Kathy. 
Here is a taste of the wisdom she shares in her blog post about who we need to be and what we need to do after tomorrow, after election day: 

But here we are, flawed messy beautiful human beings, left with an important task as tomorrow comes and goes.
Who will we be?
What shall we do?
Whose image will we bear?
How can we participate in healing and hope and unity and kindness and compassion and generosity and reconciliation and justice and mercy and beauty and presence in this upcoming season?
Here is another gem that Kathy wrote - on the night of the first Presidential debate.

As I think about what our country might feel like and sound like at this time tomorrow night (11:45 pm), I am reminded of images we have all seen of the aftermath of tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes and floods. Buildings demolished. Landmarks washed away. Whenever I see those images, I think about the tremendous amount of damage and the prospect of a tremendous amount of work that must be done to discard the debris and rebuild the affected cities and towns. 
I keep thinking that our nation has suffered a political tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, and a flood. Where does all the debris from this storm get taken? Where do we dispose of the angry words and accusations that have been levied so freely and frequently of late? The dismissals and insults of entire groups of people, nations of people, and other political candidates? Where do the disgruntled and angry voters, the ones whose candidate doesn't win, where do they take their grievances and grudges? What happens to all the people who are convinced that the whole process is fixed and fake and there is no reason to have faith in the next President or in each other? What do we do with all of our conspiracy theories and blaming of "them" - whoever that "them" might be? Where does all that bitter bile go? I do not know.
But what I do know is that I promise to be part of the clean up crew.Part of the peacemaking team.Part of the rebuilding effort.Part of the joy brigade.Part of the "free listening" squad.Part of the crew that will never say "I told you so," no matter what happens.
A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling down my Instagram feed. I'm one of those people who joined Instagram to look at other people's stuff, but I have never posted anything myself. Is that the same as being a stalker??? Anyway, I started to scroll down the feed of one of my social and political heroines, Rebecca Walker. Several months ago, she posted this: 
How long is the fight? Forever.
How many conversations do we have to have to change the world? A million.
How will we accomplish it? One carefully chosen interaction at a time.
Healing is going to take a long time, a lot of conversations, and patience that we have clearly not had with each other over the past year or so. But it will happen one conversation, one encounter, one exchange, one hug, one smile, one walk, one meeting, one march, one changed law, one school integration plan, one new job, one storytelling session at a time. 

What am I going to do on election day? I plan to consciously and intentionally engage in conversations that I hope and pray will contribute to changing the world, the nation, this city, and my own home. And I plan to continue having those kinds of conversations the day after that and the day after that.

I'm not going to vote tomorrow - but only because I voted on the first day of early voting here in Charlotte. Instead of voting, I'm going to spend an hour with my spiritual director in the morning. Sharing my joys and sorrows with her. Listening to her wisdom. Filling several pages in my journal with her questions and comments and insights on how to be a woman of peace and grace and strength and courage, no matter what. Then I will have lunch with another wise and gentle, thoughtful and loving friend. We too will invoke words of peace, prayers for calm, and encourage one another to stand firm, with kindness and gentleness, always unwavering in our determination to live lives of love. And all the while, every step of the way, I will be in deep prayer for our nation and for our next President - either one. In fact, I will pray for all the candidates in all the elections, the ones who win and the ones who don't. 

More than that, I will be praying for each of us. For all of us.
For our future as people living together in the same land.
Working together.
Learning together.
Walking together.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I am going to vote again tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will be voting for peace.
Voting for reconciliation.
Voting for hope.
Voting for joy.
Voting with my mouth, my feet, my heart, and my life.
I suppose, on those terms, it is indeed perfectly legal,
and actually we should be encouraged to "vote early and vote often."

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