Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Path Ahead

Yesterday, my father-in-law shared the below letter he wrote with our family. He's allowed me to share his wise and comforting words with you all, my extended family. It's beautifully and thoughtfully written. We read it together last night with Sofia and look forward to the healthy dialogue it's started.

Peace be with you dear ones. Let's hold each other close during this time of uncertainty.


My dear family: 

By a razor thin margin, our voters have handed over to Republicans the keys to our entire country.   The world will not come to an end.  It is time for the healing to begin and for us to figure out how to come together to help solve the very difficult problems that have been too long neglected by both political parties.  Each of us has a part to play in helping to make things better.  We need to get past the grief of loss and immediately start down the pathway toward reconciliation. 

For much too long, our political system has been failing, especially at the federal level.  Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of grid-locking our political process.  Both parties have stymied efforts to address the real problems that we face:  income inequality, racial tensions, joblessness, barriers to affordable health care, declining infrastructure, immigration burdens, climate change issues, foreign conflicts, and many other foreign policy challenges.  These are very difficult problems that need to be addressed by a functioning federal government.  Everyone needs to pull together to help make it function better.  

Let us look to Amy (blog) for how to begin.  She has reminded us to focus on two powerful words: kindness and love.  Let me add two more words:  respect and civility.  Together, these words form the core of a strategy to help move things forward.  Let us start by addressing the anger that we feel toward supporters of the other side.  Let us try to put ourselves in their shoes and shed light on how they feel.  Let us recognize where there is legitimate pain and suffering.  Let us extend our hands to those who are hurting and have looked to Donald Trump for relief.  Let us resist the urge to lash out at them and blame them for defeating Hilary.  Let us speak respectfully about them and with them.  Let us work to find common ground with them. Let us acknowledge their pain and help to relieve it.  Let us help to define and support ways to help them.  Let us have faith that, fundamentally, our political system is sound and can work if we give it a chance and work collaboratively with those who have the power to fix things.

Let us resist anger and divisiveness.  These are non-productive impulses and they sap our energy.  Our country is much too polarized already.  What can we do to help diminish anger and repair relations with the other side?   Let us start by being more open minded about what we read and hear.  Let us believe that most people are of good will and want to do the right thing. Let us confront our prejudices.  Let us resist filtering out things that conflict with our values and beliefs.  Let us work with the other side to find common ground that will enable problem solving.  Let us acknowledge the complexity of our most difficult problems and resist thinking they can be easily solved by “magic bullets."

Let us get past the shock of the election outcome and the sense of grief over lost opportunities. It may take some time to move on and we should respect the need for a period of grieving.  But, we must move on.  The Republicans have been given a mandate to govern and should be expected to move forward with alacrity.  We should expect they will be able to get some good things done unless there is significant resistance from Democrats.  If new laws are passed or old laws are undone, we should expect Republicans will get most of the praise for successes and most of the blame for failures.  If Democrats focus on supporting good public policy and good things happen, the outcome could be win-win for both sides.  This is not to say that Democrats should lay down and be steam-rolled.  If Democrats mainly focus on obstructing Republican proposals, we should expect a further backlash against Democrats in the mid-term elections two years from how.  I say, give the Republicans a chance, be responsible in where to pick fights over their initiatives, and be as constructive as possible in helping to make good outcomes for our country.

Finally, let us be confident that there are better times ahead for everyone.  We already have come a long way toward improving everyone’s lives.  For most of us, it already is the best of all times.  Medical care has never been better.  The same can be said about communications.  The whole world is at our fingertips.  We are prosperous in many dimensions.  We are a rich country with bounteous resources.  But too many people are hurting and are unable to share in the good fortune.  Our challenge is to make our system of government work better for them.  This can only happen if we support collaborative efforts to achieve the common good.

Be of good faith.



  1. Amy - This is Cindy, cousin Arlene's daughter. Thank you for sharing Dick's wonderful words. I shared your post from the other day with some friends, and they really appreciated reading it. I will do the same with this post. Please let Dick and Carlene know we're thinking of them.