Certainty

Tonight while watching the news, a story popped up about a new syndrome which is being called “election stress disorder.” Just under 3/4 of the country is reporting anxiety about the outcome of tomorrow’s election. To a degree, I’m one of them. Enduring another four years of Donald Trump is a terrifying thought for me. I honestly can’t think of a single redeeming quality he’s exhibited during his presidency. I think he’s a racist, a sexist and a liar. I think he’s a narcissist whose personal needs always outweigh his consideration of the American public, including his loyal supporters. His isolationist policies make me feel unsafe as a citizen of the world. His disrespect for science has caused thousands of deaths and continued spreading of the coronavirus. His climate change denial is pushing our planet further along to the brink of disaster. In fact, we’re already there. He is vengeful, cruel and wildly unstable. He makes me fearful for the future for my children and grandchildren.

Yesterday, I stood in my front yard, looking at the blazing colors of the leaves from my burning bush now fallen to the ground. I marveled at the delicious aroma of the wildly dispersed orange mint that we planted here when my daughter was given a cutting from the first garden ever planted on the grounds of her elementary school when she was in third grade. That was over thirty years ago.

I dug up dahlias and canna lilies and packed them in peat moss and newspapers. They’re now stored in the cool back hallway along with the milkweed and tithonia seeds I already harvested, hoping they’ll all sprout next year when I plant them.

I heavily pruned my Rose of Sharon which was straggly and shapeless this year. And as I worked, I thought about these fraught times when people are so anxious about the outcome of this election. And I realized that I have more certainty about this time than I imagine when I’m nervous. I’m certain that many people are giving this contest very little thought and that despite a big turnout so far, as a nation, we fall miserably short of voting seen in other countries. I’m certain that I don’t have any regard for the opinions of those who deliberately disenfranchise themselves.

I’m certain that this country was not established as a Christian country by the founding fathers, despite all statements and beliefs to the contrary. I’m certain that those who identify as such have widely diverse views about what Christianity means. I’m certain that religion should be a private matter instead of government doctrine. I’m certain that a large segment of the populace puts their individual needs and issues ahead of the public good. I’m certain that the bogeyman of socialism and the red menace is an excuse for selfishness and disregard for the greater community. I’m certain that people’s personal lifestyles are none of my business. I’m certain that health care, education and women’s choices about their bodies should be accepted rights. I’m certain that Black Lives Matter and that those who say all lives matter are missing the point.

I am equally certain that many disagree with me. I’m certain that this country is as deeply divided today as it was during the Civil War. I’m certain that these divisions which have always existed have been exacerbated by Donald Trump’s presidency. I’m certain that he deliberately foments hatred and separation. All of my certainty about these matters is exhausting and anxiety-producing. But I’m also certain about more positive matters. I’m certain that many younger people are more tolerant than their elders. I’m certain that with time, education and community organizing, some of the cultural divisions will shrink. I’m certain that efforts will be joined to find common ground no matter who is elected. I’m certain that I want to be part of that movement. I’m certain that as I have for decades, I’ll continue to support the causes I believe in and try to make a positive difference where and when I can. I’m certain that no matter what the outcome of tomorrow’s contest is, that as long as I’m healthy, I’ll be able to find a place for myself as a functioning, principled human being in this society, even if others around me can’t or won’t. In the meantime, I’m going to appreciate the small wonders around me. Like my flowers that have managed to survive the freezing temperatures of the past few nights.

Like the birds who inhabit my yard and provide beauty and entertainment.

I’m certain that I’ll continue to appreciate my good fortune at having my grandsons close by and being my bubble during social distancing.

And I’m certain that I’ll never cease to be amazed at the way a sky can go magical at the end of a day by turning itself into an unimaginable palette of color within minutes. I wish everyone good luck getting through tomorrow’s angst. I’m going to focus on staying certain.

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