I’ve been reflecting on the events of the week. So many different emotions, but one persistent truth. . . we are all in this together.
I was living in Kenya in 2007 as the Kenyan people prepared for elections in December. There was a great energy of expectant “change.” Then when the votes were almost counted, the incumbent president was sworn in behind closed doors. Violence seemed to break out immediately across the country, and in fact had already started. Over the next two and a half months, over 1300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes.
In the midst of that violence, my sisters and I gathered people into small groups of conversation. We invited people from all backgrounds, from different political groups, from different professions and religions. We created a space where they could talk with one another, hear each other, and recognize once again that we all share a common humanity. We all need the same things, food, shelter, security and a place to belong. When I feel that my needs or beliefs are threatened, politicians are very good at making me believe it is you that is threatening me.
Here, in the United States, we are close to having a declared winner in our presidential race. Maybe it has already happened. But feeling into the days that have passed and watching the numbers amass, I feel as if we, the citizens, are the losers. The picture of our country in this election is that we are more sharply divided than ever before. No candidate has the capacity, try as they may, to bring us together. That job is ultimately our responsibility.
How can we cross that divide? How can I join a small group of people in conversation, people from all backgrounds, from each part of the political spectrum, from each ethnicity, color or religion, and sexual orientation? I don’t care if you are a leftist, a lesbian, a Catholic, a farmer, a queer man, a Buddhist, a white supremacist, a professor or a black woman. However you identify yourself, you have something to contribute to this conversation. We are all in this together.
I hope we turn to each other in conversation before we start killing each other.