Limping To The Finish Line

Some of the pundits tell us we might be in for a longer haul. It may not be over tonight as was originally advertised. But whether we have a clear winner come Wednesday morning or the presidential election remains too close to call — we will have survived the political storm largely intact. Well, most of us anyway.

Yes, there will be some licking of wounds and necessary rebuilding of morale depending on which camp you’ve staked your tent these final weeks and months. Some of us will have fewer “friends” on social media and perhaps fewer friends in real life too. However, after the red and blue smoke eventually clears and the elephant dust and donkey dander settle, what we’ve suffered as a society should not be minimized.

Let us not forget all that we have collectively endured: We have weathered the primaries, the campaign speeches, the conventions, the debates, the yard signs, the “friendly” disagreements with our peers, family members and neighbors, the seemingly infinite supply of television ads, the attacking, the dodging, the whining, the scaring, the robo calls, the constant-and-ever-shifting “latest” polling numbers, the charts, the graphs, the talking heads, the morality arguments, the ignorant, misinformed, uninformed and enraging Facebook posts, status updates and tweets, the rhetoric, the apocalyptic theories, the partisan politicking and the endless “what-if” scenarios.

I’m tired now. Aren’t you? No matter the outcome, after today, our part is done. We will have (hopefully) drug our bruised and battered bodies to the polls and freely exercised our right to choose a leader — a right that I am no less grateful for no matter how much I complain or how worn out I may actually claim to be. But now I think it’s time we return to our regularly scheduled programming… complete with those good, old-fashioned commercials for antidepressants, erectile dysfunction, indigestion and Black Friday Doorbuster Deals.


My Flag (Pin) is Bigger Than Yours

Not to worry. You can keep reading. I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to get political and my hope is that by the end of this post—aside from those who know me personally—many readers will not know which side I am casting my vote for three weeks from today.

I simply find it amazing how, in our 24-hour news cycle, there are so many little things that seem to matter an awful lot. While watching the first Presidential debate between Governor Romney and President Obama, I noted a rather curious difference between the two candidates… and I’m not talking about their stance on tax cuts.

Right out of the shoot as they shook hands and took to their respective podiums, I noticed that there was a significant difference in the size of the two men’s lapel pins. President Obama wore his standard pin that he can be seen wearing on most occasions while Governor Romney adorned his navy suit with a much larger one.

And I knew… I KNEW that this variance would make it into the news somehow. If you don’t believe me, a quick Google search on “Presidential Lapel Pin Size” will prove otherwise. Anyway, in addition to the actual issues at hand regarding the future direction of our nation… the implications of the flag pin differential were being dissected the following morning just as I suspected.

Now, I personally don’t care about pin size, hair thickness, eyebrow shape or tie color… but the media thinks that I might. So they tell me. Along with A LOT of other things that really won’t matter in the long run. However, I’m not blaming the media for this. They are merely delivering to us—the collective “We the People”—what we seem to enjoy celebrating so much these days… Division.

It is such an easy trap to fall into. In fact, it is a cinch what with all of the commercials, the scare tactics and the cleverly and strategically shrouded truth, to begin bickering amongst ourselves about who is right and who is wrong. All the while we keep forgetting that we share the real estate and overall status of what lies within the boundaries of this nation.

Recently, while at dinner with some friends I got into a somewhat heated discussion with one of the men about the issues, the candidates and our personal differences. And during one of the debates, I sunk to putting biased comments on Facebook about the candidate who I did not prefer. In doing so I got responses from friends who happened to disagree with me, and the conversation inevitably descended into petty, misguided frustration and anger.

It was then that it struck me how “not worth it” all of this political volleying really is. And I took my slanted comments down and replaced them with the following:

“Had a momentary lapse in judgment last night and began participating on here in “debate talk.” I forgot that the consequences of that lay not in discovering who disagrees with you but in learning what everyone else thinks. I don’t WANT to know what everyone else is thinking. No one is going to change my mind — a mind I’ve made up for myself. The only thing the participation in “debate discussion” invites is division between me and people I otherwise call friends. I’m going to try to hold my breath (and my opinion) for another month and then silently express that opinion in the polling booth — the most powerful and effective forum of all.”

The comment garnered a rather large and favorable response from both my Republican and Democratic friends and family, proving my theory that before we were political rivals, we were friends and family who, at the end of the day, stand beneath the SAME flag with the SAME colors and the SAME number of stars and stripes. And that’s what is getting lost in all of this bitter fighting over the details… the remembrance, above all, of our sameness.

One Nation, Deeply Divided

Do you ever feel like running away from it all? I know I do at times. These days all I have to do is turn on the news and a sudden, uncontrollable urge to pack a bag and just disappear washes over me. I would leave my cell phone, computer and all other forms of communication and technology behind.

I would go somewhere where I would not be exposed to the hatred-filled arguments between just about EVERYONE in this country about our current president and whether or not he is a Socialist… or a Communist… or the Anti-Christ.

I wouldn’t have to listen to a polarized nation debate the efficacy of the jobs plan, the necessity and scope of health care reform, education reform, the dwindling budget and rapidly-emptying coffers, anticipated green laws, foreign policy, the continued instability and unrest in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

I would quietly slip away to a place where there were no such things as Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Ultra-Conservatives, Liberals and Ultra-Liberals, Independents, political pundits, corrupt politicians and loud-mouthed, single-minded individuals pushing their own agendas all under the guise of “productive discussion.” Since when were hatred and fear the key elements in productive discussion anyway?

You see … I am so deeply disappointed in our behavior as citizens of this country. If you are still reading this, do not think me unpatriotic. I am PROUD to be an American. I still get goosebumps every single time I stand and tilt my chin toward the stars and stripes being lifted by the wind while our National Anthem is sung or played. I try to say a sincere “thank-you” to our men and women in uniform whenever I get the chance.

But I can’t help thinking about where we were, who we were and how we treated one another just 10 years ago this week. September 11 is drawing near… again. For the tenth time our nation will stop and gather to remember the tragedy that occurred on that fateful day. Most of us will probably pause to remember where we were, what we were doing, how we heard, what we witnessed and hopefully—more importantly—how we felt.

A horrific thing happened on that Tuesday morning… an unspeakable act that has forever charred the fabric of the American tapestry. But on that day, and in the months and probably even the year that followed, we were united as a country. We had a common enemy: Terrorism and those who perpetuated it. We had a common goal: To restore peace and a sense of safety in our homes and in our communities.

What happened? Have we so quickly forgotten what we were so brutally reminded of on that day? That we are ALL equal? That we are ALL human? That we ALL love… and hurt… and bleed? That we will not live on this earth forever? That we are all in this together whether we like it or not?

Please, PLEASE I ask you to consider these things this week and if only for a little while… I encourage you to look at your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, fellow classmates and strangers you pass on the street… and remember that we are far more alike than we are different.