It’s time to row together
Nov. 12, 2012
by Ivan Raconteur

It’s finally over. We have survived another election season.

We endured months of contentious campaigning, countless political ads, and a lot more analysis than was probably good for us.

I spent many hours Tuesday watching election coverage, which included television news people interpreting what was happening, and panels of experts explaining why it was happening and prognosticating what might happen next.

Sadly, almost in the same moment that some Americans were breathing a sigh of relief that the divisive election drama was over, others were beginning their post-election rants about how the country, or state, or city was ruined based on the results of the election.

Meanwhile, others were crowing about the victory of certain candidates.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we are able to vote for our leaders, and express our opinions, which may include complaining about the winning candidates or cheering about them.

However, whatever our opinions, we are in this together.

I detected a wave of negative energy washing over the country in the wake of the election, from both sides of the political spectrum. Some of those whose candidates lost wailed about doom and gloom, and seemed determined not to support the winners. One almost gets a sense that some people are hoping for the state and country to fail, just so they can feel vindicated.

On the other hand, some of those whose candidates won seemed to thumb their noses at those whose candidates did not prevail. While a certain amount of celebration by the victors is understandable, we must remember, now that the election is over, we need to work together.

The candidates who won prevailed because a lot of their fellow citizens voted for them. Likewise, unless a candidate was elected unanimously, some citizens supported other candidates.

This should be a time for healing and conciliation, not more divisiveness.

What is sometimes lost in all the election drama is that, while we are a diverse population, we are citizens of one nation.

Obviously, we have different views. We practice different religions, or none at all. We have diverse interests and support different teams and sports. Some of us enjoy watching teams beat on each other while chasing a pigskin, while others enjoy watching people hit a ball or puck with a stick, and still others prefer watching cars drive in circles. This variety is healthy.

It seems to me many of the problems we are facing are the result of gridlock in the state and federal legislatures. The issue is not the differences, but the way we manage those differences.

If we don’t start learning to work together – and that means citizens working together, not just elected officials – we may very well be in trouble.

We don’t always need to agree on policy, but we had better agree to try to work together to find common ground and look for solutions rather than divisions.

This is true in any relationship if it is to succeed.

If a couple disagree about an issue, and both sides dig in and refuse to discuss the subject, and refuse to compromise, the issue might soon become a wedge that drives the couple apart and dooms the relationship to failure. If married couples parted every time there was a disagreement, there wouldn’t be many married couples.

The same is true for groups of friends, families, teams, committees, or just about any group of people.

I’m not suggesting we sit cross-legged around a campfire singing “Kumbaya” – I’m too old and fat to sit cross-legged around a fire singing anything – but it’s about time we started acting like a united nation instead of like a bunch of spoiled children.

Perhaps I am over-simplifying things, but the way I see it, we, as citizens of Minnesota and of the US, are a lot like a crew of Vikings in a longship on the open sea, with a storm coming our way and a field of icebergs scattered around us.

You know the kind of ship I mean – the graceful, double-ended ships with a symmetrical bow and stern and many rows of rowing benches.

These efficient vessels represented the best in Scandinavian ship-building.

However, in order to be effective and avoid threats such as storms and icebergs, it was essential for the crews to work together.

It didn’t matter if the crew members liked or agreed with the guy in charge. If they tried to row in different directions, or if some of them sulked and refused to row at all, the ship would not move and would not be able to avoid perils, and the vessel and crew could be lost.

Well, brothers and sisters, there is most certainly a storm on the horizon, and the sea around us is fraught with danger.

Unless we agree to start working with one another rather than against each other, we could end up losing our ship and we could all find ourselves at the bottom of the ocean.

We have the luxury of being able to elect a new captain and ship’s officers in future elections, and we may choose to elect officers who will take us in a different direction at that time. But, for now, we have more immediate challenges to worry about, and we had better start rowing.

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