Today is Election Day and I just voted. Although I stood in line for more than an hour and should have worn warmer socks, all in all, it was a pleasant experience. More than that, however, it was a hopeful experience that reminded me that no matter what the outcome of this particular election, we’ll be fine.
To be sure, I have very strong feelings about which candidate would make the better president and I’m not alone. If Facebook and the long line at the polling place are any indication, this particular election evoked passionate opinions on both sides. But as I stood in line this morning, chatting with those around me, it didn’t seem to matter. After walking to the end of the line and seeing several friends and colleagues, I stood with a woman a little younger than I and a gentleman a little older. As we chatted, I discovered that the woman works in the building next door to mine and the man was probably the first person to sell my husband and me a car after we married. The subject of who we supported in the election never came up — we were too busy talking about our connections, the things we love about where we live, the things we share, the things that make us a community.
We also talked about our hope that the passionate feelings that led to deep divisions throughout the election season would be put into perspective once the election was over. We talked about hoping that things would get back to normal, that if your “team” lost you would mourn and be depressed for a time, but then get back to work. We talked about how that was the beauty of our system of government, that if you don’t like the result you know that in four more years you’ll have a chance to change it.
My Election Day experience renewed and reaffirmed my belief about what is important in a healthy community. What is important is that we focus on those things we have in common, the connections between us. We can do that while at the same time acknowledging that there are real and significant differences. But at the end of the day — Election Day or any other day — it is the connections between us and recognizing those connections that will help us be stronger as a community no matter what our political affiliation.
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While I still have my strong opinions and feelings about who I want to win the election, and I’m proud to say that I voted, I hope that what I remember most about today is not who won or lost, but my experience standing in line. That experience of finding connections and affirming community will have as much impact on my life as who the next president is. The next president may enhance or impede the health of our county and towns, but ultimately it will be the connections we discover that determine who we are and who we will be as a community. And in that there is hope.
Anne K. Ard is the executive director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, 140 W. Nittany Ave., State College. Contact her at 238-7066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.