In a way, it feels like a magnified version of Christmas – the election, I mean. All of that lead-up, all the wishes and hopes for what you might get this year, all of that investment in trying to get just the right outcome…and then it’s done. The big reveal is complete. And we either did or did not get just exactly what we wanted, or some results feel like the best gift ever, and some are more gravely disappointing than an ugly sweater or a set of pickle forks.
But one way or another, those of us who have spent months obsessing over polls or calling strangers or arguing politics on Facebook need to find something else to do with our time. The decisions are made, the gifts unwrapped. There is only so long one can continue to fill the hours with election re-caps and analyses about how and why this or that demographic voted as they did. It’s time to move on.
Except that it isn’t. Moving on implies letting it go, moving forward as if nothing happened. It sounds like brushing one’s hands together and declaring mission accomplished if your side won, or grumbling off into the night if it didn’t. Neither of those stances really exemplifies the best of democracy or, for that matter, spirituality.Far better to choose moving forward. If there were candidates or causes you were passionate about, you cared for a reason. You voted because you cared about the environment or liberty or education or marriage or any number of visions of the society that you hope to live in. And none of those visions is either accomplished or lost based on the people or propositions that got the most votes. All of those visions are still merely possibilities.
Every time an election rolls around we are told that it is the most important of our lifetimes, and that catastrophe is imminent if things don’t go our way. And that might be true. But it is also true that the work of the world, the pursuit of justice and freedom and health and wholeness has been continuing—imperfectly—for a very long time, and isn’t likely to be finished any time soon.
So take the time you need to celebrate or mourn the outcome of this most recent election, but don’t take too long. The work of clarifying your vision of the world you want to see, and the work of nudging the world toward that reality, is still very much in season.