Hello neighbor

When I was a girl my mother would often visit with neighbors. They would send all of us kids out to play while they drank instant coffee, smoked Winstons, and gabbed. They would take turns yelling at the kids to stop beating up on the smaller kids and to quit climbing in the trees. Every once in a while they would throw us a bologna sandwich or some oreos, and we would wash it all down with red cool-aid that stained our tongues and teeth. If one dad’s truck broke down a neighboring dad would give him a ride to work. The moms took turns driving us around to softball and baseball. When one of the neighboring mom’s got sick with cancer my mom spent weeks sitting by her side, preparing meals for her family, and caring for her sheep. We weren’t always happy with our neighbors. Sometimes they borrowed things and never returned them, and sometimes there were disagreements and opposing views. But, through it all we were still neighbors, and you could always count on your neighbors in a pinch.


The aftermath of the recent election left me feeling incredibly troubled; so troubled that I had difficulty writing about it. I was horrified with the way people were treating each other. I wondered: Is our country still a democracy? Wasn’t our country founded by a group of people whose views were in opposition to the status quo? I was disheartened when one of my clients told me that he was afraid to tell his neighbors who he had voted for. Another client told me that her son-in-law had banned her from seeing her grandchildren because she refused to text him a picture of her completed ballot. I saw posts on social media of people disowning family members and life-long friends who had voted against their candidate.


When we teach our kids to play baseball don’t we tell them that they can’t always be on the winning team? After all, someone else’s kid on an opposing team might want a chance at winning a game. Sure it’s better when your team wins, and anyone who’s ever played monopoly with me knows how much I like to win. But isn’t it more important that we all play with honor and integrity and move on from our losses with dignity? Do we teach our kids that when they lose a game it’s ok to debase the winning team by telling them they are stupid and uneducated? I’d like to think that most of us are raising our children to be better behaved.


Sure, there’s a lot more at stake in a national election but after all aren’t we all on the same team? Don’t we want the same things? We might have different ideas on how to get those things accomplished, but I don’t think that makes any one more group of people right or wrong. We are a mixed pot of people made up of different ethnicities, colors, religions, and those differences are part of what makes us whole. I want things like affordable education and healthcare, a thriving economy, lower taxes (of course), world peace and opportunities for my children as well as yours. I have some ideas on how to get those things, and you probably do too. Odds are we probably want some of the same things, but we might not have cast the same ballots. We have different ideas on how to get those goals, but what if we are both partly right. Maybe there are actually more than fifty shades of gray. What’s more important is that we continue to work like a team because obtaining our goals, mine and yours, is a job much bigger than any one man or woman.


And, at the end of the day we are still neighbors whether it’s our houses, out towns, our states or our countries that tie us together, and casting a losing vote today doesn’t mean we won’t ever get to win again. Besides if the candidate we didn’t vote for surprises us and does a good job aren’t we all winners? There are many things wrong with our country, but there are also a lot of wonderful things about our country. Each and every one of us can have a dream, an idea and cast a ballot. Our freedom to have these things is something plenty of our countrymen have fought and died for and it’s something we should fight to keep.

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