he election was
hard-fought, and both sides gave their all. There was deep disappointment
Where do we go from here?
In his concession
speech, John Kerry said:
“President Bush and I talked on the phone. We talked about the danger of
division in our country and the need – the desperate need – for unity,
for finding common ground and coming together. Today I hope we can begin
One of the remarkable aspects of American life over more than 200 years of
our history is that every time we have changed our government through free
elections, the defeated party, overnight, become trusted American citizens
again. Not first Democrats or Republicans or Federalists. Americans. They
are disappointed Americans, surely. Angry Americans too. But, they are
Americans. United in a single cause with those with whom they so recently
disagreed. Such has it always been.
This time, it feels different. More fragile. The minority numbered only
slightly less than the majority. The previous election included the
unprecedented circumstance of the majority losing their choice through
technicality. It still rankles. The process just didn’t seem right.
The gap between red and blue seems wider and meaner than ever. Some of my
cherished values were viciously attacked.
- the freedom of women to choose how they treat their bodies
- of anyone having free choice of what their sexual orientation shall be
and whom they shall marry
- peace with all peoples on earth except in self-defense
- great care and protection of Mother Earth and all the interdependent
web of existence
These were, at times, denigrated, cheapened, judged, made to seem morally
How can I walk across to my conservative neighbor and congratulate him/her
after such an experience. I feel disrespected, misunderstood hated even
... how can I seek unity and common ground with someone who treats me so?
Well, the answer for me is, how can I not? [READ ... American Rhythms]
Where do we begin?
As Pogo said, “I have met the enemy and he is us.” That is, those with
whom we disagree are, for the most part, people who are very much like us.
They are our neighbors and friends. With whom we disagree deeply. How do
we begin to “find common ground … to come together in unity?”
Both sides, both sides, are guilty of seeing those with whom they disagree
as “the other”, as less than, as we talked about on Oct. 10. Rather than
seeing them as fellow humans who simply want to be happy, as the Dalai
Lama reminded us, each side describes the other in sarcastic, demeaning,
insulting, belittling language. Each thinks they are right to do so.
“They are so WRONG, after all.” There is no common ground possible as long
as we continue to do this.
We cannot control what others do, any of us, but we do have control over
what we do. So, the first step we can take as progressives and liberals is
to find those ways we can affirm those with whom we disagree.
Some of them are working to affirm us as well. [READ Rise of Moral
Voter] then [READ Religious Left]
Where IS our common ground? What do we ALL seek?
Safety, surely. From terrorism in particular and war in general.
A sound economy, so we can all flourish.
A healthy planet ... yes conservatives want this too.
A strong sense of morality in our leaders, in addition to their
intelligence and skill.
Stable families that stay together and raise bright and compassionate
A sense that all is right in our world, that we are following the right
A leadership role in the world as a strong, fair, caring nation.
So, if we want these things in common, how might WE in this room proceed,
as religious people who wish to help lead the way to healing the divisions
in our country? Here are my suggestions. They are ideals. We can strive,
daily, to do our best to reach them. They are as hard for me as for you.
RECOGNIZE the universal needs of all humans. It is the same challenge for
us as UU’s that we have been insisting on for decades for
African-Americans and other people of color, for women, and gays and
lesbians. We just need add another group to the list ... conservatives. We
all, indeed, simply want to be happy.
COME off our high horse and stop judging conservatives as being inferior.
Yes, we may have more education, but it doesn’t mean we necessarily have
more wisdom. We have much to learn from those who see the world
AFFIRM the similarities and values we share with our fellow humans who
happen to be conservatives. It starts with friends and neighbors.
CREATE opportunities for respectful dialogue. No blame, no put downs, no
negative attacks, no “I am one up, you are one down.” No, I am smarter and
better and have superior answers to yours in regard to the troubles of the
world. Just respectful, polite, kind, persuasive dialogue.
DECIDE what our priorities are for putting forth your own cares and
concerns in the world, and do it. Positively extolling whatever causes and
people we are passionate about. A woman’s right to choose, gay pride in
marriage, protection of the environment, care of the dispossessed, peace.
We can still change the world.
IGNORE the small percentage of conservatives who will continue to attack
and put us down. That is their karma.
And finally ...
BLESS the universe in which we are living. Remember that we, all living
beings on this planet, and in the universe, are related. Those are your
sisters and brothers across the aisle, as well as streaking across the
sky. Honor them.
“President Bush and I talked about the danger of division in our country
and the need – the desperate need – for unity, for finding common ground
and coming together. Today I hope we can begin that healing.”
- John Kerry