With the outcome of the election known, it has been much easier for me to resume my life. No more anxiety around who is going to be in charge next, no more animosity from certain factions on the opposing side, and no more negativity, at least not at the levels it was. I never enjoy an election when the country feels so divided. I’ve been on both sides—elated my candidate won and devastated when they didn’t. When Obama was re-elected it felt anti-climatic, and almost silly that I put so much energy worrying about the outcome (darn those pundits for getting me all worked up!), when people in our own country are just trying to get back to their lives in a more basic way.
I was able to reconnect with a friend who lives in the Northeast this week over the phone. We talked about Hurricane Sandy and the effects it has had on her own home and that of her neighbors. There was much devastation in her area, and while she and her family had fared the storm well enough, several neighbors weren’t as fortunate. Homes needed to be emptied and gutted because they had sustained so much damage. People were displaced and had to find temporary housing until they can get back into their homes. Gas shortages along with power lines that are still down make it difficult to get around and get basic needs met. Sandy is an event that reminds us all about our priorities: family, friends, life, taking care of one another…all of things that really matter, not what we get caught up in everyday—work importance, politics, and individual needs.
HBO is currently airing a documentary series called Witness, which follows photographers who are capturing life in countries experiencing their own wars: Mexico, Libya, South Sudan, Uganda, and Brazil. The series highlights what life is like for people in the country today and everyday. One photographer mentions that he was drawn to this, because he felt the world needed to know what was really happening in these countries, not just what can be crammed into a 60 second piece on the nightly news. In watching the episodes, while the countries and situations are different, my reaction was the same for its citizens—fear, anxiety, and an incomprehensive of how people can survive in such scary situations.
Can you imagine having to be concerned you could get caught in the crossfire of a gunfight at any time of day? Can you imagine not having access to electricity or water or not knowing where money or food would come from, and not because you don’t have the money, which is frightening enough, but because no one has electricity, water or food? People who can provide these services are too scared to go to work or it is simply too dangerous. Can you imagine trying to raise children in such an environment?
We may disagree in this country on a lot of things, but I take great comfort in our democracy, our desire to live in relative peace with one another, and help our fellow citizens when we are able. We are not perfect and have many problems to solve, but I am thankful, so thankful that I live in a land where I don’t fear for my family and children’s safety on a daily, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis. I am grateful that while we may disagree, it doesn’t result in us raising arms against one another. I am thankful that when we experience destruction like Hurricane Sandy we come together to help each other.
I am thankful, I am thankful, I am thankful.