"Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears." -- Rudyard Kipling
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." -- George Lucas
The sunshine highlighted the gold and red colors of fall leaves as I headed into work last Friday morning. Something about the air made everything appear in sharper contrast. I waved at the guy strolling along Lincoln street wearing a Trump shirt. On the other side of the highway, a woman walked alone. Her shirt bore the image of a tattered American flag. I gave her a honk and a smile as I drove past.
I feel better now. Maybe it's the new chai/reishi mushroom-based faux coffee I've had the past couple of mornings. It claims to provide better focus and alertness without the caffeine jitters. I admit I think it's helping. The hope of decency and competence restored in the White House may also have something to do with my sense of well-being.
I should be tired and wrung out from watching election returns until midnight the past three nights. It's been a roller coaster. I went to bed Tuesday night resigned to another four years of Trump, only to witness the incredible surge in Biden votes from mail-in and absentee ballots. Biden was declared the winner on Saturday; another beautiful day. There will be recounts and legal challenges, as seems to be obligatory in close elections. Those suits have never succeeded in the past, due to the fact that there exists no widespread fraud in our elections. Still, sore losers will invent conspiracies and insist that the election was stolen from their candidate, lack of evidence notwithstanding.
The most disturbing aspect of this election is the obvious rift in American politics. We are almost equally divided when it comes to who we want as leaders in this country. We've had divisions before, but the outright hatred between the tribes is at a level not seen since the Civil War. The words of President Trump on Thursday night did nothing to bring the nation together. False accusations of voter fraud were made with no evidence presented, while urging violent actions, which only inflamed emotions.
Trump made those statements out of fear. Fear of being a loser. Fear of losing power. Fear of what may be ahead for him as he confronts massive debts coming due and almost certain investigations and legal troubles. Fear may be driving the divisiveness in our nation. We fear what we do not understand. There is fear we may become socialists, more dependent than ever on the government. Fear predominates those who feel their health insurance will be dissolved or priced out of their reach. There is fear of being in lockdown, not able to make a living. Some fear being infected by covid-19 and having their health threatened.
What we must do is go back to identifying those things we all have in common. The love we have for our children and grandchildren. The renewed pride we have in Arkansas Razorback football. Sharing that great new recipe you found. How about just talking to someone in person without asking about who they voted for? All I know is that life is too short to live in anger and fear. The goodness we seek can keep us from being dragged down to despondency and hatred.
Biden's words on Saturday night were conciliatory and gracious. There was no gloating, no talk of crowd size, no demonizing of his opponent. He spoke of healing and unity. I saw no weariness or fear in the man, only determination to address the enormous problems we all know so well. I sensed relief from Republican leaders. They can relate to someone who knows how to govern. Biden is well-liked and well-known in Congress. He can reach across the aisle and deal with the opposition as well as those in his own party.
But unity cannot be legislated or mandated by government. Unity comes from seeing the good and potential worth in others. The problems and fears we face are shared by all. Covid stalks us all regardless of political views. Unemployment and health care affect the employed and the healthy. Let's spend less time on social media and more time finding ways to help our neighbors and community. Let's put fear of the future aside and deal with what is in front of us now.
-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.