In 2021, Madeleine Albright wrote an insightful piece in Time Magazine about how the Us versus Them thinking was tearing America apart. I remember reading that article and having a few critical statements stand out.
- “It should be clear, given both our national experience (and world history), that no group has a monopoly on truth or virtue.”
- “There is no question that we all have a right to quarrel with one another; that’s the democratic way.”
- “But we also have a responsibility to talk frankly and to listen carefully, to recognize our faults, and to refrain from pinning dehumanizing labels on those with whom we disagree.”
The need for conversation, frankness, humanity, and humility were common themes in that article, and each resonated with me. More than likely, these things boiled to the top because every experience I have had has proven that true change comes with clarity around expectations, meaningful conversation, sharing power, and nurturing equality in voice.
Years ago, when my dad wrote another book, I recall looking at his notes as he wrote. The side notes said something akin to “arguing ensures that no one will truly walk away a winner.” Another line in Albright’s work mirrored that meaning for me, as she stated, “Democracy was designed to aid such a process, based on the premise — severely tested in recent years — that voters will ultimately prefer builders to bullies and healers to heels.”
So today, as I think about family members who will vote for the first time this November, I hope everyone who heads to the polls remembers the importance of We. The importance of sharing space, realizing that we can disagree without defaming, and the reality that we are designing the future of our collective space together (not in isolation).
Maybe this November, it is most important to recall that “we” refers to oneself and the other people with or in proximity.
This isn’t about me, and it isn’t about you. It is about what we do next, where we go next, and how we move forward, not in a tug-a-war but in conversation. No matter what votes end up with what candidate and who gets sworn in, I might be a little hopeful that we can understand that conversations build community.
Communities that are strong enough to endure growing pains, new directions, and diverse viewpoints are those that will thrive.