Friday, December 23, 2016

Peace On Earth?

Only a few months ago everyone, regardless of political views, seemed to be saying, “I can’t wait for this campaign to be over.”  Everyone, except for those few who really relished a good fight, was apparently thinking the same thing, that the presidential campaign was the nastiest, most tiring and most divisive in memory.  The general sentiment was how nice it would be to get back to a calmer time when most of the news was not about accusations tossed back and forth by the candidates, about fist fights breaking out after political rallies, about protests against the appearance of one of the candidates at a sight, or about leaks revealing each of the candidates prior criminal history.

For a long time people were encouraged to go out of their way not to bring up politics at family gatherings or social events for fear of causing major fallout.  Comments and posts on social media were as aggressive and mean as the daily sniping between the parties or the news media’s attempts to dig up the dirt.  Instead of calmly discussing points of disagreement, so-called friends called each other vile names when they found themselves at odds over which candidate was best – or at least, the lesser evil.  All that emotion and anger were exhausting, even to those on the sidelines, not directly participating.  We just hoped Election Day would arrive soon and it would all be over.

Now that the election has come and gone, it’s not over.  The sniping, bashing and name calling continue, not between the candidates anymore, but between their advocates and a still divided population, led by a mainstream media which, despite an attempt to appear non-partisan, can’t seem to hide the fact that they obviously felt the wrong candidate won.  On social media you see that one side has gotten out their crystal balls to determine what a disaster the next four years is going to be.  They are angry and worried sick.  For a while they called for recounts or a rebellion within the Electoral College in a futile attempt to overturn the election results.

The other side, again with crystal balls in hand, predicts that we are better off, and each attempt to smear the President-elect or question the outcome is met with sneers and equally nasty comments.

The truth is that no one has a crystal ball.  No one can predict the future with any accuracy.  If that were the case, we would all be rich and not so worried about it.  We just have to take what comes and hope for the best.  I wrote on the day before the election that most people were voting against rather than for a candidate, and that the poor choices we were left with was our own fault for not demanding better from the parties and from government in general.  Perhaps those who were griping about gridlock for the last four years will be praying for it over the next four.  This is not the answer.  The real solution is to use critical thinking to continuously question politicians, the media and advertisers, not reacting to the hype and forcing them to be honest.

In any case, this is not the season for anger and hate.  It’s the season for peace and joy and goodwill.  Let’s try to leave the politics behind just for a little while.  So over the next couple of days, no matter who you are spending time with and no matter how obnoxious Uncle So-and-so gets, try to ignore the provocation.  Take a deep breath and count to ten.  It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what this end of the year means to you personally, try to find and share some of that peace, joy and goodwill – even if you have to fake it.

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