It’s Election Day here in the United States, and the culmination of one of the most difficult political cycles ever.
But today I’m not thinking about red or blue, Trump or Clinton, Democrat or Republican.
Today I’m remembering the days that followed September 11, 2001.
Photo by Loco Steve
Do you recall that extraordinary time?
We Americans were engulfed in our collective grief and shock after the terrorist attacks, but we also put our arms around each other in LOVE. We set aside our differences and came together as a country, like never before.
We flew our flags as proud, determined, united citizens.
Photo: Jim the Photographer
Photo: Woodley Wonderworks
Photo: Loco Steve
Photo: Luke Nadeau
We dropped the labels, and put aside the things that divided us. We were simply drawn together by our collective humanity.
So much GOOD emerged from such a terrible loss. I remember thinking that I didn’t want that feeling to end.
And here’s the thing: that same unity of spirit and hope that ignited so instinctively on September 11 is still right here in each one of us, no matter who wins this difficult election.
I believe that we all have a longing to be more united and less divided. It’s how we’re wired. It’s how we were created.
It’s why we Americans donated a record-breaking $2.8 billion to help the victims of 9/11.
It’s why we smashed that record and went on to donate a record $5.3 billion to assist people after Hurricane Katrina.
It’s the same collective energy and spirit that brought together 5 million people to joyfully celebrate the glorious, long-awaited victory of the Chicago Cubs.
My friend Debra Benton writes that we are all more alike than we realize. We all want to keep our families safe. We all want to have opportunities to build good lives. We all want to be loved and accepted.
I hung our flag today, because I am not going to let this election diminish my hope for our country. It feels good to honor and remember the many people who sacrificed so that we can freely participate in this imperfect, messy, democratic process.
Photo: Randy Heinitz
It’s easy to feel disillusioned after such a painful season, but let’s trade our dissatisfaction for action.
If we want future elections to be cleaner, let’s work to get Dark Money out of our political system.
Let’s reach across partisan lines and seek common ground.
Let’s figure out how to shape better parties, and platforms that reflect our values.
Let’s raise up good leaders.
Photo: Aaron Brinker
Let’s remember—no matter how this election ends—that the spirit to come together in unity is in our very DNA.
Let’s remember how naturally we supported and helped each other as a country after September 11th.
Let’s not forget how good and right it felt to come together.
We are, after all, citizens of the United States of America.
So let’s roll.
Photo: Maxim Pierre