I am writing this post on election day. No numbers have been released yet. All is quiet in Minneapolis, for now. I awoke this morning with an uneasy feeling. The feeling stems from a fear that the divisiveness in the United States will erupt tonight and in the days that follow.
For many months, I’ve thought of the election as the solution to ending the bitter arguing and finger pointing. If we change something — the president, the senate majority— maybe things will settle down. People will be decent again. It won’t be permissible to hate so publicly.
I know a new president or senate majority is not going to make all of the aggression disappear. It will still be there simmering under the surface, occasionally boiling over onto social media. My hope is that over time and with dignified leadership we can learn that we are stronger together.
This feels familiar
The arguing between political parties reminds me of the separateness and division I often felt in my childhood home. My parents divorced when I was around seven. It seems there was always dad’s house and mom’s house. I was Mommy’s girl, my sister was daddy’s girl. The subtext was “Are you on dad’s side or mom’s side?”
My sister and I fought over everything. We were rarely a team ourselves. We were on opposite teams. We criticized each other. We yelled at each other. We punched, sat on and spit on each other. We were ruthless. My parents could not get us to join forces as children.
Let’s emphasize our differences
To me, it seemed our differences were emphasized. I was quiet. My sister was not. I was feminine. My sister was a ‘tomboy’. I was the sensitive one. She seemed bulletproof. Even our complexions were compared. I am fair. My sister is darker complected.
My sister and I did our own things. We had different friend groups and different interests. It was more important to win arguments and be better than her than to have her as a friend and ally. In truth, I did not trust her to know and care for my real self. I assumed she would shred any vulnerability I showed.
Rarely use the word hate
I distinctly remember saying I hated my sister. Hate is not a word I use lightly.
I hated that she did not love me like other sisters loved their sisters in books and movies. My friends were close with their siblings.
Lack of resources?
I believe much of our animosity came from our insecurities and our lack of resources. Happy, secure people do not need to duke it out all the time. Neither of our parents made a lot of money and they did not have a lot of extra time to devote to settling our squabbles.
My sister, mom and I shared clothing and shoes. Inevitably, someone would stretch out, stain or lose someone else’s article of clothing. That was grounds for a major battle.
A leader with vision
During this time period, our paternal grandmother used to say, “Someday you girls will be best friends.” We both scoffed at this. I never said it out loud, but I secretly hoped she was right.
I need you
Eventually, my sister and I found a real friendship and trust when our mother was sick. We had to care for Mom together. It was definitely a two-person job (more like ten person). My sister and I both reached our meltdown point. The work, expense, details, sadness and frustration of caring for a woman with ALS, wear one down.
During this time of sadness, we became a team. We laughed over dark jokes. Cried watching Mom slowly lose her independence and dignity. In our case, tragedy brought my sister and I together.
You are me, we are we
In the time we spent together caring for our mother, we found out we are much more similar than different. We both value education, learning, family, good food, traveling. We each have the dichotomous traits of curiosity and an appreciation for stability inherited from our parents. We both possess drive and high expectations. It’s possible our childhood battles strengthened us similarly.
What needs to be said
The political battles have brought back not so fond memories. Why must there be so much comparing and contrasting? Why does one have to be better than the other? We can be different but useful and valuable. I wished for such a declaration as a child. No one said it. No leader unified our broken family.
The virus has increased the divide between people in the U.S. Tragedy has not brought us together. Our differences are still being emphasized, rather than our similarities. Do we all feel a lack of resources we have to fight over? Is money the main resource? Should the president, like a grandparent, step in and encourage friendship over animosity?
Is your sensitivity piqued by the political division? Does it remind you of other times in your life?