As I write this, it is Tuesday afternoon. Election Day is winding down. The polls are dead — either because people did early voting or are waiting until they get off work.
Like many Americans, I’m just waiting for the madness to be over.
People tend to think that whatever they are going through at any given time is the most extreme example in history. When teens fall in love for the first time, it is as if love hadn’t been invented until then. When race riots break out in the streets, we think this is the worst division of our citizens — forgetting just how bad things were in the 1960s.
This year’s World Series was NOT the most dramatic in history. Fashion and hairstyles are NOT the ugliest ever. Today’s pop music is NOT the worst ever … well, okay, it is pretty danged horrible.
Understanding full well our natural tendency to exaggerate, I still can’t imagine there has been an election year this awful in terms of slinging mud and insults.
The commercials on TV make me sick. I can’t surf Facebook because of all the vitriol splashed upon the screen.
People who have never met swap insults. Longtime friends are no longer speaking to each other over political views.
Yes, I understand that the battles over segregation and minority rights grew very heated in the early- to mid-’60s. Yes, I know hippies insulted soldiers drafted for Vietnam in the late-’60s and early-’70s. Yes I know that the Civil War sometimes pitted brother against brother.
But at least those folks never had to deal with social media.
It’s one thing to hear that dozens of people took part in a race riot or that thousands marched in protest; however, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have ensured that virtually every plugged-in citizen in the 50 states has been dragged into the conflict.
The insults, sound bites and memes shared online are even spilling over to kids, who are arguing at school over things their parents have shared.
How many people have “unfriended” someone because of politics? How many have a lower opinion of someone they have know for years because of their posted views?
I have cut a few people myself this election season. Not because of their Republican or Democrat extremist stances, but because they attacked me or my coworkers for being part of the “biased media.” It’s not enough that they insult each other, but they jump down my throat for not supporting their far-left or far-right beliefs.
The part that really gets me is that state and federal politicians are stirring up all this trouble in order to get elected. By the time you read this on Thursday, the election will be long over, and the politicians will be ready to get back to business as usual — you know, doing things for their rich supporters and passing even more laws so that they can justify their jobs.
Trump and Hillary will wash the mud off their hands and go on about their days. And we’ll be left dealing with the nuclear fallout from their campaigns. An emotional radiation that has seeped into everyone and everything around us.
Seeing that it is still Tuesday, I have no idea whether Trump or Hillary won, but I’m sure at some point between my writing this and you readers seeing this that one or both of them will have uttered the word “heal.” We need to come together and heal. It’s time to put aside our differences, united we stand, blah blah blah.
There is an old story that fits this situation.
A little boy tells his father a lie and gets caught. The father makes the boy hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Then he tells him to pull the nail back out of the wood.
The nail represents the bad thing the boy said. He can take it back, but the bad words have left a hole. Tell enough bad things, and the board is ruined.
In the story, the board represents trust. That even if the lie is taken back, the trust is injured. But the same holds true this fall with our whole country.
So many insults, cruel jokes and outright lies have been told that the boards of our nation are riddled with holes.
And that will take a lot more to heal than some politician’s speech.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.