This has been an election like we’ve never seen here in the United States, in the midst of a year like we’ve never experienced.
I’m grateful that President-Elect Joe Biden is calling for cooperation, unity, and healing. However, what has become abundantly clear over the course of the past few days, weeks, and months, is that we’re a deeply divided nation.
And while we already knew this going into the election, my hope and prayer is that things can change in this regard as we move forward. Coming together is going to take a lot of work on all of our parts, but I believe it is necessary for so many reasons.
Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This is true in our families, our teams, our organizations, our communities, our country, and our world.
I wrote my book, We’re All in This Together, for a few different reasons. One of my main intentions was to remind us that we’re way more alike than we are different and that togetherness, while incredibly challenging at times, is necessary for us to thrive – individually and collectively.
Yes, we have some fundamental differences. And, we have some serious issues to resolve, problems to address, and things to change, for sure. Yet, at the same time, there is so much that binds us as Americans and human beings.
As I talked about on a recent podcast episode, for us to authentically confront these challenges and to make meaningful change, it’s going to require us to shift from our us versus them mentality, and remember that there really is no them, it’s all us.
And while we can’t control how the leaders in Washington behave, as well as the nature of the discourse in the media, we can definitely adjust the way we personally operate, communicate, and interact with those around us, as well as on social media.
Here are some things we can think about, focus on, and do, to help us move forward…together:
1. Reach out to those who voted differently – Although the final vote count is still coming in, we know that more than 70 million people voted for each of the candidates. If we’re willing to reach out and check in with people in our lives who may have voted differently than we did, we can learn a bit more about where they’re coming from, how they’re feeling, and figure out how to come together, even with our different perspectives, ideas, and beliefs.
2. Operate with compassion – Emotions are running high these days – due to the pandemic, social unrest, economic uncertainty, and more – in addition to the election. By engaging with others compassionately, not only can we more fully understand them, we make it safer and easier to connect in authentic and effective ways, especially with people who see things differently than we do. Compassion is about relating to others emotionally and having empathy for their experience, not necessarily agreeing with them or seeing things the same way. Right now things are intense, scary, and challenging for most of us and for many different reasons. Let’s be gentle with ourselves and with others.
3. Remove self-righteousness – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We have no morally persuasive power with those who can feel our underlying contempt for them.” In order to understand and influence people who think differently than we do, we have to let go of our divisive self-righteousness, and shift it to healthy conviction. We have important issues to discuss and debate, but making people wrong doesn’t lead to connection, cooperation, or togetherness…it just further separates us from one another.
4. Look for and find common ground – The dividing lines of liberal versus conservative and red state versus blue state are reinforced all over the place these days. Remembering that we’re all Americans and as human beings we have so much common ground with one another is essential. We may look, think, pray, act, believe, and vote differently, but we actually have way more that brings us together than divides us. Our job is to look for and find these commonalities, and to use them as the foundation for our discussions and debates.
Although it may not always seem like it, especially right now, I believe that we truly are all in this together. And, operating from this perspective is what will allow us to create more unity, connection, and positive change as we move forward during this critical time in the history of our country and our world.