Amidst a thousand blessings about the way things turned out, one of them is the chance to stop playing defense and concentrate on offense. To stop re-acting and start pro-acting. To take a rest from having to respond with the constant outrage to the next unbelievable action or statement and start feeding the out-joy and believable possibility.
Of course, I’m not naïve. Plenty of playing defense ahead and though I would hope for none, and certainly less, there will be more re-acting and outrage. But I feel the shift from the defensive position of helplessness and hopelessness to the offensive position of strength, the sense that there is a solid group of good guys and gals ready to use power for service and justice.
And yes, it helped to go on the marches and read the funny signs and feel like I wasn’t alone, but on some level, it just feeling the despair of helplessness was magnified by sharing it all with the thousands of others feeling the same thing. All of us with the gloom of that dark cloud hovering over us each and every damn day, no matter how much Stephen Colbert could make us laugh about it. It felt better to be together and joke a little about it, but we knew we were all suffering down to the depths of our souls.
It’s a whole new ball game now, after being run over constantly by the other team, we (mostly—come on, Georgia Senate race!!!) have the ball in our hands and we’re so much more in control of moving it down the field. And yes, too bad that 70 million folks are sitting in the bleachers across the field, but I have hope that the trance will be broken and some may finally awaken to the first truth that our team based on our better angels is more fun than the team run by our worst devils. And more importantly, the second truth, the realization that we’re all on the same team. It’s us against pandemic, us against climate change, us against fear, fundamentalism and despotic governments. And switching again to offense, it’s us for sustainability, us for physical and mental health, us for playing fair and reclaiming decency and more civil discourse, us for beauty and spiritual uplift and love. And most of all, us for our children and our children’s children.
And for those who like the thrill of the game, we can still play against each other if we remember the root word of “competition”—“com”= with, “petition” is to send a prayer to the god of what you care about. Thus, “competition” is not to play against an opponent, but for you and your opponent to petition the same god together and spur each other on to greater heights. In the great moments of sport, that’s what you see when the “winning” team congratulates the “losing” team and both realize how they uplifted the viewers by the height and depth of their inspired athleticism. If Republicans and Democrats played in that spirit for the common good of all, it would be a different game indeed. Our mutual petition to our shared legacy of democracy and the constant evolution toward making its most sacred tenets (like voting! Like liberty and justice for all) available for all. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about who has the majority in the Senate or the House because the thinking, caring human beings we elect would vote on issues, not blind party allegiance. Wouldn’t that be a good idea?
But both teams would have to agree. And let’s be honest. The Republicans have distanced themselves further and further away from that ideal in a way that would even make Reagan blush. Since the mid-90’s when Newt Gingrich started stirring up his vile, the new competition was to win at all costs and demonize the other party. Senators who used to amiably eat lunch together after voting on opposite sides of the bill began to cut off communication and party loyalty surpassed the common good, with the whole country losing in that Faustian bargain. Amplified by Fox News, given 24/7 voice by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, Bill Reilly and his cronies and then reaching an apex of extremity with Trump, who even when talking to the Boy Scouts on a celebratory occasion, starts spewing filth about Hilary, it just got worse and worse. Note all the Republicans in the Senate who stood silent as their leader disrespected and dismantled (or tried to dismantle) one democratic foundation after the other. From the Ukraine business (did anyone remember he got impeached?!) to the shameless Supreme Court hurried vote and hundreds of horrors in-between. All signed, sealed and delivered by the silent Republican senators. And note the final question of the 3rddebate—what to say to Americans who didn’t vote for you. Trump goes on about how bad Biden will be, Biden says, “I will be the President for all Americans, regardless of who voted for me.” You get the picture.
So Republicans, we have the ball now, but that other ball, the one of deciding to let go of this cancerous growth of win at all costs (stop counting votes, make up fees for Florida felons to pay before they can vote, making up lies about illegal votes, trying to shut down the post office, etc. etc. and etc.), that ball is in your court and if you won’t pick it up, hopefully more and more voters will notice and your team will just slowly fade away. We’re not waiting for you to decide, there’s too much clean up to do right now. You can let us know when you’re ready.
Meanwhile, we’ve got work to do. Set! Down! Hike!