This is how we heal the rifts
The question we in the United States will be forced to confront the morning of November 9 — no matter the outcome of the election — will be, "What now?"
Half the country will be overjoyed. Half will be depressed — or worse. All of us will be glad it's over, but still will have not answered that looming question. What now?
How do we work to make things better? How do we work to ensure that next time, the debate is worthy of the office? How do we heal the rifts?
How do we take what is widely regarded as the most disgusting, the most repugnant, and the most dangerous election in history, and make it a turning point for good? How do we make it so that future generations will look back on this and say, "But after they hit that low point, they worked together to make sure this would never happen again"?
How do you change a society whose fabric is so badly torn?
I have often in this space said I'm not the one with the answers. But this time, I know exactly what to do. I know how to change the game. I know how to ensure we never reach this point again. I know how to heal these rifts.
And so do you.
We make friends. We talk to strangers. We pick up garbage. We paint a senior citizen's house. We volunteer. We start donating again.
We reach out to friends, neighbors and relatives who voted for the other candidate, and we find the things we agree on.
When we see a single parent struggling with a child at the grocery store, we don't give them a dirty look because they can't control their kid, we smile and say, "We've all been there."
We remember courtesy while driving. We practice patience and understanding when others do not.
We hold the door for people. We invite someone lonely to share Thanksgiving with us.
We pray that not only will our country be changed, but that we will be changed, as well.
The little things not only matter, the little things are everything. That fabric of society that seems so trampled upon and torn? It is made of individual threads, and the way — the only way — to repair it is thread by thread.
If you don't believe it, look at recycling: In the 1980s, recycling was almost unheard of. Then elementary school teachers started recycling efforts in their classroom. One class, one student at a time, they changed the world to the point that in most places, recycling is now taken for granted. No grand movement. No sweeping speeches. One teacher at a time tying one thread.
Edmund Burke once pointed out that, "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
Yes, regardless of the election results, things will be a mess. There is much to do. So much hatred and ignorance was revealed during the campaign it seems impossible to fix.
But fixing it is only impossible if we do nothing. And the only way to repair it, the only way to make a real, lasting difference, is for each of us to do the little that we can.
Remember, links, tips and accounts of the response to any crisis anywhere in the world are always welcome at email@example.com.
Learn about the benefits of communal living in our latest Notes from the Field installment. Notes from the Field reports are written by a Catholic Volunteer Network volunteers.
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