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Election Day questions, no answers

By Thursday, Nov 6, 2014 Letters 2

To the Editor:

So, here we are on Nov. 5. The election is over. The pundits are endlessly talking. Our emotions might be all over the map. First, thank you to all of you who volunteered for a candidate or for a ballot question, for those who contributed financially, and for all who voted. Here in the Berkshires, most of our towns came out 65 to 75 percent for the Democratic candidates. We did our bit.

Like you, I woke this morning feeling as if I’d been run over. My brief political career (Obama’s and [Deval] Patrick’s two elections each) has each time resulted in joy and exhilaration. What happened? What is this new experience of devastation?

Personally, there’s a sadness, an anger about all the money spent, a disappointment, for Massachusetts and for the country. And then I step back, wondering if – while it’s natural that all of that stuff is going on – if there’s a bigger perspective that can at least allow us to understand what is going on in a way that doesn’t wear us down, and may even lead us to new solutions.

I just watched the President’s hour and a half press conference where he didn’t swerve from his optimism and hope for this country, albeit it with a toned down demeanor. I turned off the pundits analyzing him to death… and ask myself what my own experience actually is at this juncture.

What I’m digging for in myself is a perspective that looks not just at this election, but looks at this period of time in the context of lifetimes and even longer. I sense that what keeps Obama from going crazy is his understanding that change happens over long periods of time, and that movement isn’t necessarily a straight line. Can we hold that view?

Can I not demonize those whose ideas are different from my own? Is it possible not to insist that my ideas are the only right ideas? Is this possible when there seem to be so many divergent opinions about how things should be? What if I truly look at all the “others” as fellow/sister human beings, all bound together on this earth, all with the same basic needs, all somehow playing out our part in moving life forward?

We’ve all heard the quote by Einstein that “you can’t fix a problem from the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place.” That implies that we have to stretch into something new, stretch into a view that might just open our eyes and our hearts to a fuller, more open picture. We might need to let go of some ideas to listen freshly.

Now, I’m not trying to equalize all extreme ideas that are currently on the table. I’m just trying to find a new way to be with all the complexity of our times. Battling things out in the old way just doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s uncomfortable to be in a place where you don’t know how to proceed. All the organizations are writing to us today, saying that we’ll fight all that’s going on. I don’t want to fight. I do want to find new ways to respond.

So now you’ve been introduced to my philosophical thoughts a day after Election Day. No answers. Lots of questions. For me, it seems more wholesome to immerse myself in these sorts of investigations, rather than allowing depression to fill my days.

How are you? Keep your chin up. There’s always lots to learn.

Susan Olshuff