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Remember the Marathon!

Remember the Marathon!
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BY BETH PORTOLESE

This past weekend I went to watch the runners in the New York City marathon. My fabulous cousin Maryanne was running in it.  As I waited for her to come by, I saw all types of people running: men and women of all races and religions, disabled people, and runners from every country in the world.  As they passed by, the crowd cheered them and encouraged them on to the finish.  While watching this spectacle I thought, this is what our country really is!  People encouraging others to reach their goals no matter what their race, religion, and nationality is.  I actually got a little choked up seeing it all.

If you’ve watched any of the news programs lately, you’ve certainly heard nothing about any of this type of unity in the country. Every story declares that the country is divided and nothing can put it back together again.  For the past 18 months we have been subjected to a political race that has been so divisive and vitriolic that it makes you lose faith in everything that is good about our country.  This race has brought out the worst in us and has been so downright nasty that people just want it to end.  Friendships have been torn apart because people can’t understand why their friends would support the candidate they don’t.  The attitude of ‘agree to disagree’ has gone by the wayside.  Too much reality TV and social media has made us immune to recognizing bad behavior for what it is, unkind, rude and not what we are supposed to be about.

So what to do? How do we translate the unity of what I saw in the marathon to life after the presidential election? Some suggestions:

  1. Go back on Facebook (it is safe – no more political postings) and send a friend request to everyone you defriended during this election cycle.  As you do it, try to remember why you liked them in the first place before all this happened.  There must have been some reason!
  2. Have a conversation with someone who supported the other candidate and just listen.  As we have found out with this election, there isn’t enough listening going on in this world.  If there had been more, maybe we would have realized how demoralized and afraid a good chunk of the population was and worked to rectify it.  If people had felt more hopeful, maybe a Donald Trump would not have happened.
  3. Continue to reject bigotry and misogyny in any form.  If anything good came out of this election it’s that it was made quite clear that we still have a long ways to go before everyone feels equal in our society.  If anyone actually thought that by electing a black president we now were in ‘post racial America’ they were sadly mistaken.  The same holds true if we elect a woman and think misogyny is a thing of the past.  By bringing this to a forefront again and shining a light on it, hopefully we can make more progress in everyone getting to live their American dream.
  4. Volunteer for a day at a charity that helps those less fortunate.  You will feel gratitude for what you have and better about what type of person you are by helping out.  There really isn’t a better feeling than working to help improve things for people.
  5. Last and certainly not least, get involved.  People hoping that the end of the presidential race would bring some relief will probably be disappointed since politicians on the Republican side vow to block Hillary’s every move if she wins. I imagine that the Democrats will probably do the same thing if Trump wins, even though they aren’t being so blatant about it.  What these politicians don’t realize is that they work FOR US!  We pay them to get things done, compromise and solve problems FOR US!  Not for their party, not for their own power, FOR US!  Keep track of any politicians who won’t compromise or work with the other side, call their office, write letters and if that doesn’t work, vote them out of office the next chance you get. It will require some work, but considering how much effort and time people put in during this election to make it clear who they were supporting, it would seem they could put the same amount of time in to force our elected officials to work FOR US!

As I write this, I don’t know who the winner is.  If you have read my site, you can probably guess who my vote will be for but it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is what happens after this awful election.  It is up to us to ensure that the political pundits who say that America will never come back together again are wrong.  Remember the marathon!

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