Walking into my polling place yesterday I was greeted warmly by a neighbor who had just finished voting and was on her way to work. I checked in with the friendly volunteers and took my place in line. My neighbor who brought amazing beer and coffee and bread and sausage within a short walk of my house (via the Hoppy Dog) was in front of me. A former student was in line just behind me. The strangers next to me chatted pleasantly. I watched as another neighbor who likes to have coffee at the same time as my husband and I most Saturdays (and is blind) was guided to a booth and given headphones. I thought about those women years ago who fought hard to win the right for me to be at the polls at all. And then I thought about kindness and positivity and hope.
Thanks to my decision to cut way back on social media time and my lack of easy access to television I was shielded from a great deal of the election-related negativity. But I knew it was there. I heard other people talking about it. I caught snippets of when the television was on at the gym, bar or hotel. I couldn’t miss it on an occasional scroll through facebook. It’s impossible for something so big and national not to permeate.
I know that campaigning is all about winning and that one certainly has to play the game to win. But as the election season winds down I find myself weary of a game that involves both sides dodging questions and focusing on polarizing issues instead of concrete plans. I find myself hoping for some bipartisan political kindness. Not kindness in the sense of “playing nice” or “all getting along” but simply in a committment to listen more and call names less. To move towards progress and healing and away from intentional divisiveness.
So tonight, for the neighbors, volunteers and strangers I voted alongside yesterday. For the women who fought for my right to vote. For our country. I hope.