Grant us serenity to accept
It’s not always easy to accept reality. In fact, we may find ourselves resisting truths when we’ve become comfortable with our own expectations. It can create stress that does not serve us well.
Wikipedia tells us of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), giving us the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.
The presidential election brought anxiety
Whether you pray or meditate or not, these are words of advice in which are wise to follow. Certainly, the recent election brought a lot of stress to the nation. Further, the stress is felt on both sides of the political aisle. Whether voting for Trump or for Biden, you probably experienced anxiety as the votes were counted.
More stress came as reports were brought forth about voter fraud and ballot tampering. Was the voting and the ballot counting legal? Was it fair?
Jen Kirby, of Vox, reported that Trump’s own officials say 2020 was America’s most secure election in history. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a statement with state and local officials saying:
The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.
The 2020 voting process is coming to a close. Doubts may linger but the general consensus is that the election was fair. The nation can move on.
The election revealed a deeply divided nation
But here’s a dose of reality: both sides (Trump’s and Biden’s) received a huge outpouring of support. Never before in American history has any candidate (winner or loser) received so many votes. It was the largest voter turnout the nation has ever experienced.
Before you get too excited about that fact, however; consider another: Only about 64% of registered voters participated. It’s not much to brag about in terms of executing a democratic election contest.
Now we are faced with a new reality. Actually, it’s the same old reality but the election shed light on our national circumstance. Almost an equal number of voters (tens of millions) cast their ballots for each candidate. This was one of the more contentious elections and one between such starkly contrasted candidates. It means that just as sure as you are about your vote, there is someone near you, probably whom you know, who adamantly disagrees. The election plainly revealed in a bright light that we are a nation divided.
Holidays and relationships begin with respect
There is much about the political divide that you and I cannot mend. We may not succeed in convincing “that other person” their perceptions and beliefs are inferior to your own. And, they will be just as unsuccessful changing yours.
Perhaps we need a little serenity. Perhaps we need a little prayer.
We are fast approaching the holiday season. We may not gather as we usually do, but we will still connect with those we love and appreciate. What can we say?
It will be times when we probably should accept what we cannot change. Perhaps we must agree to not speak of politics that divide us, that darken our days more than Winter can, and spoil our festivities. Clinging to the respect we have for each other, calming our argumentative ways, may help us to recognize once again what we cherish about our friends, our neighbors, and our families. We partake of wisdom when we accept that truth.
The issues will remain long after the holidays are over. The nation doesn’t simply heal itself because we’ve survived beyond the Winter Solstice. Our differences of opinion formed out of diverging values will remain.
National healing requires courage
It’s worthwhile to consider the original form of the Serenity Prayer in which Niebuhr began with the plea for courage to change what needs to be changed.
Father, give us courage to change what must be altered,
serenity to accept what cannot be helped,
and the insight to know the one from the other.
We will need courage to make changes to what must be altered. We will need courage, too, to accept what we must, letting go of our fears as the nation progresses. Serenity is a good goal.
The holidays call for inclusion, to remember and be remembered by those we love. Just as the election shined a light on our national divisions, the holidays can shine a light (maybe many lights?) on how important inclusion can be.
We know that almost half of the votes cast gained no representation in the Electoral College because of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach. We know that WTA can be removed, recognizing it as the obstacle to inclusion, and ensure all votes matter.
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) removes WTA as it honors the workings of the Electoral College, protecting state sovereignty, and retaining the checks and balances on which we rely for a safe and democratic election.
It takes courage to adopt EVV, though. Consider the Electoral College map color (red or blue) of the state in which you live. The courage needed is that if you voted for Biden while living in a blue state, you need to be willing to let those who voted for Trump to gain representation in the Electoral College. Likewise, if you voted for Trump while living in a red state, you need to be willing to let those who voted for Biden to gain equal representation. It means you are willing, courageous, to make all votes matter.
Such courage may take a little work. It may take a little prayer. It’s a good place to start.
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team