Business Casual: What if?
How we and our leaders can pull together to heal divisions.
Suppose, when the dust settles and all the votes are counted, we wake up one nice, cool early-November morning to find that the contentious election season of 2020 is finally behind us, and we have a result that makes us proud?
Suppose the winner ushers in a new era of compassion, unity and purpose? Suppose he is determined to heal the wounds of the last few years, address the concerns that trouble us, right old wrongs and breathe new life into the phrase “liberty and justice for all.”
What if our chief elected official surrounds himself with smart, caring, super-competent, science-loving, justice-seeking women and men who will work to fulfill the promise of America and make sure that promise includes all of us?
Could it happen?
I firmly believe it could. But I think it will take work – from each of us, not just the top guy and his chosen helpers. A lot of damage has been done to our country – a lot of good things undone, a lot of not-good things done out of spite, greed or wrong-headedness.
We are more divided than we have been in my lifetime. That division has drained a lot of energy, taken a toll on practically every aspect of our lives. It has weakened us – I believe it played a big part in the course of the COVID-19 crisis that has cost so many lives and harmed so many physically, emotionally and economically. I believe it both influenced and threatened to derail the social justice movement that came to life so dramatically last spring and summer.
We have a public health crisis. Why not let science and scientists be our guides? Regardless of the election’s outcome, we are likely in for a long slog from COVID-19 or the next pandemic that strikes.
We need and deserve a leader who will endeavor to take the politics out of mask wearing and social distancing and inspire us to do all that we can, together, to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.
We have a social justice crisis, an awareness – new to some, not-so-new to others – that systemic racism is not in the rear-view mirror as many had convinced themselves, that it is still present and must be eliminated.
It is a monumental task that demands the best in all of us, most especially our elected leaders. The solution is not to demonize those seeking justice or trivialize their struggle. It’s time for those at the top to listen, to take it upon themselves to find answers, to lead the way in righting wrongs and appeal to all of us to help.
Our country has a pretty impressive track record of rising to the occasion and pulling together when leadership shows the way with common sense, compassion and determination.
Think of the effort that united our country during World War II, when citizens on the home front saw it as their patriotic duty to collect scrap metal, plant victory gardens, buy war bonds, do whatever was necessary, even as those serving in the armed forces – brave people, not losers – fought and died on foreign soil to defeat an evil that sought to destroy everything in its path.
More recently, think of the country’s response to 9/11, when our leaders put aside partisan differences to make America safer and make our citizenry understand that we had a part to play.
There has been a lot of rancor, a lot of animosity unleashed in our country of late. I don’t think it is going to disappear overnight, no matter what the election result. I think it is going to take leadership characterized by intelligence, resolve and hard work to bring good people together to counteract the hatred, to calm and unite, to show a way to disagree without violence or overpowering enmity.
We need a leader who will marshal the considerable resources at his command and use them effectively, not fan the flames of discord.
As I write this, I don’t know the outcome of the Nov. 3 election; but I believe the right leaders and the right kind of leadership – in Washington and in our state – could give us a real chance to make our country all it can and should be.
What if we get that leadership, and what if we pledge ourselves to help our leaders bring out the best in all of us?