Many of us won’t be unhappy to see the back of 2020. It’s been a dreadful year with Covid-19 still surging in most states, and plenty of cultural upheaval, economic woes, and the drama surrounding this year’s elections. This is an appalling time—one in which we should be pulling together as a nation.
According to political analyst, Bill Schneider, the U.S. is the most divided it has been since the Civil War. It seems we Americans can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on so many things. It wasn’t always this way, and it’s not too late to turn things around.
After the Japanese two-hour surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, FDR entered us into WWII and declared that the day would go down in infamy. Although Americans were shocked and saddened by the event, they were also resolute in their togetherness. The government had to quickly raise funds to recruit, train, and equip the military. Under FDR’s leadership, Americans answered the call in their time of need. Those who didn’t go to fight, helped the cause on the home front by pulling up their rose bushes and planting Victory Gardens. They organized rubber and scrap drives. Women entered the workforce in droves.
FDR’s guidance and optimistic outlook led Americans to all work for the good of our country. War production created shortages at home. Instead of bellyaching, people sacrificed. They rationed food, shoes, paper and metal. An essential ingredient needed to make explosives was glycerine, so Americans were asked to save household waste fat to make the glycerine.
You didn’t see people taking to the streets with guns and signs proclaiming their Constitutional rights were being violated. No, they knew what had to be done, and they pulled together for the sake of their neighbor and their country to get it done.
“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” ~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941
We need to look at these current crises and understand that we’re all in this together. With the country divided on so many issues, how do we begin to reunite again?
The first thing we can do is dial down
One of the best ways to dial down is to take a break from social media for a while. We are all guilty of falling down internet rabbit holes. By focusing our energy away from the right or left leaning bubbles, we can clear our heads. Turn off the TV. Go for a walk after dinner. Get some fresh air. Then when you get home, keep the TV off and pick up a book. You’ll find that time away from the madness will allow you to reboot your mind.
The second thing we can do is to listen to one another
Some people may be raw after the election. Give them time to process, and then reach out to them. Don’t talk politics. Instead, bring up a great memory you shared. The holidays are a wonderful time to do this. Talk about music or favorite foods. Talk about sports. Swap recipes. There was a world of things to share before 2020. Tap into those good times and start to create new ones.
The third thing we can do is to actively work on deescalating the situation
Comedian and actress, Sarah Silverman, pulled into a parking spot in L.A. to buy some pot and apparently came too close to a guy’s truck. Although she didn’t hit him, the guy jumped out and ran toward her with fists raised.
“If you weren’t a woman,” he shouted, cocking his right fist back.
She thought quickly about what she could do to deescalate the situation.
“Hey, I will pay for any damage I caused,” she said.
When that didn’t seem to work, she asked, “What kind of pot do you like?”
He was dumbstruck and lowered his fists.
“Seriously. I’m going in to buy pot, and I’d like to buy you some. Let me know what kind you like.”
He told her the type he preferred, and she went into the store. She bought some for him and some for herself. While her purchase was rung up, she noticed a traffic cop by her car ready to give her a ticket. In her rush to buy the pot, she forgot to feed the meter.
“Oh well,” she said under her breath. “I’ll get a ticket.”
The security guard at the door said, “Don’t worry. The guy with the truck just put money in the meter for you.”
Lesson learned—as soon as you encounter a situation that’s heated, look for ways to deescalate.
The fourth thing we can do is to understand this time will pass
Family and friends are torn apart by our differences. They found themselves on different sides during the Civil War just as we find ourselves at odds now. This time of crisis won’t last forever. These are dark days, but we will get through this to better times.
The fifth thing we can do is to accept that you won’t always agree
We’ve lost the ability to see each other as people going through the same challenges. It’s okay to have differences of opinion. That doesn’t mean we are enemies. We are not enemies. I need to repeat that because it’s so important. We are not enemies.
Take a moment to look people in the eye—beyond the mask. These are challenging times. Let’s all take a collective breath and cut ourselves some slack. Better days are just around the corner.