Take a deep breath, America.
At this point in the 2016 presidential campaign, lots of you – goaded by wildly false claims (a common occurrence in political races) and egregiously nasty insults (not nice to hear, but not unprecedented in U.S. election history) – might be on edge.
Even if you’re not closely attuned to the matchup between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, you probably have overheard dire warnings about what will become of the nation if Candidate A triumphs over Candidate B. Or you caught the recent rumblings, spawned by Trump’s remarks during Wednesday night’s debate, about potential unrest in reaction to the Election Day vote count.
As if the buildup to Nov. 8 wasn’t tension-raising enough, the country also seems on high alert lately for other reasons. Turbulent weather in the Southeast. The ever-present risk of terror. Russian espionage. Even reported sightings (including some in Luzerne County) of spooky-looking clowns.
Things have gotten so testy, Ann McFeatters, an opinion columnist for Tribune News Service, recently suggested the partisan factions will require a healing session.
“After this election,” she wrote, “we need a national timeout, a cooling-off period, a chance to recoup and think about what we all love about this nation.”
In that spirit, we created the following short list of things that most (not all) of us can agree we have in common.
Consider the list a momentary distraction from the political firestorm, or perhaps a pre-election starting point for unification. There’s no question that, as Americans, we face legitimate and deep reasons to be concerned. But when in our nation’s history has that not been the case?
Let’s keep this year’s contest, and all things, in perspective.
• When the nation is threatened, as on Sept. 11, 2001, we rally to its defense.
• When a flood victim requires rescue, we extend a hand.
• We remain grateful for our freedoms.
• Lumps form in our throats each time taps gets played at a military funeral. And again as the folded American flag gets passed to a survivor.
• We become teary-eyed when we witness kids, unprompted, display an uncommon act of kindness.
• We “ooh” and “ahh” at Fourth of July fireworks.
• We want our children’s burdens to be few, their options boundless.
• We hope our work makes a difference, and our lives leave a mark.
• When we have extra, we gladly give to those without.
• Alone in nature – at ocean’s edge or beneath a canopy of autumn leaves – we wonder at the beauty of the universe and marvel at our good fortune.
• We realize that together we are stronger. And better.
We are not so different, not in the ways that count most.