Today’s edition of the Wallowa County Chieftain is the last one before next week’s general election.
In any normal year, a week from today we would know who will be named president-elect. But 2020, of course, has been anything but normal, and with several states set to receive ballots through the mail after Election Day — some as many 20 days after Nov. 3 — who the next leader of the free world is may not be known for some time.
What is known is this: no matter the turnout, roughly half the nation will be ecstatic, while the other half will proclaim doom and gloom.
It’s been clear for some time that our nation is intensely divided, and it seems the chasm is growing ever wider. At least that is the way it is portrayed. To the left, Republicans are evil and repugnant. To the right, Democrats are evil and repugnant.
Both sides talk of needing to bring the country back together, and they are right. But it seems as though few solutions are offered. Meanwhile, both sides remain in their echo chambers, unwilling (or unable) to extend an olive branch to someone they disagree with and begin a uniting work.
While it likely will take more than just one action to bring us back together, here is one simple step to try as we move into — and past — the climax of this election season:
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you disagree with.
And don’t focus solely on those points of contention.
You are not going to agree on every single point with an individual — even with those who are on the same ‘side’ as yourself. But we as people have become so focused on what divides us that we shun what unites us — and that is our common humanity. We all are made in the image of God. In that, we are all the same.
So rather than shut off the person on the other side of the aisle, reach out to them. Have a conversation with them. Get coffee or a meal with them. Get to know what makes them tick. Find out what in their life has brought them to believe the stances they take. Listen. And seek to find common ground.
Rather than focus just on what makes that individual a foe, find what could make them a friend.
And rather than close your ears or walk away when disagreements come up, talk them through. Be open to learn from another perspective. See if there are points of agreement even within dissensions.
You may change their mind or have your mind changed. You may not.
But you’ll hopefully walk away with an understanding of someone on the other side, and perhaps a step closer to them.
And even one step in the right direction can help close the rift in our nation.