It is the day after one of the most divisive elections of most of our lifetimes. Though we don’t yet know for sure how it will all turn out, we already know enough to know that whoever we are, whoever we voted for, we’ve already loss some of what we were hoping for. A national cure for what ails our democracy, a return to a commonly held belief in the “common good” seems even farther away than we had even imagined.
During this election session, in the midst of the pandemic, my husband and I have been watching most evenings, episodes of the 1999 television series West Wing. As it turned out, we arrived at the last episode of the drama’s seven seasons last night. We continued our practice of remote controlling back and forth between present day news coverage and the drama of an idealized West Wing. Through the past months we have journeyed through 2 four- year terms of a highly principled intellectual giant of a man, his run for reelection, the election and inauguration of his successor, (another highly principled man who happened to be a Latino from Texas.) As to the political issues the drama was grappling with, educational equity, racism, renewable energy, the environment? As a nation we are still searching for solutions to many, if not most of them.
Through the art of the series we learned how unexpected twists in the plot not only affect the trajectory and outcome of the story, but the development of the characters called upon to deal with them. We saw how, when an actor dies, or doesn’t renew his contract, the writers must rewrite the script to accommodate those real-world events. As we encounter the actors later in other dramas, we learn to differentiate the actors from the roles they play.
As we wait for final counts and court rulings, and the multiplicity of analyses of what happened and why, I offer you (and myself) a question I learned to ask from some sisters when we worked together on the Art of Grieving. “To what life are these losses calling us?” I present some inspiring answers from two other highly respected and principled women, also Sisters. Joan Chittister who lives nearby in Pennsylvania suggests, “To be one we don’t need one party, one program, one set of policies….What we need is one heart for the world at large, a single-minded commitment to this “more perfect union” and one national soul, large enough to listen to one another, for the sake of the planet–for the sake of us all.”
And from Mother Teresa, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”