No matter which side of the political spectrum you sit, I think there is one thing that we can all agree on: this election is making us all more than a little cray-cray. Each of these issues is plaguing our country:
- the COVID-19 pandemic (at the time of writing this article, The President has just been transferred to Walter Reed)
- the spiraling economy
- racial unrest
- warring cultural viewpoints
We are not just divided; we are very nearly fractured. The only other time this nation has been divided like this; brother versus brother, friend versus friend, is during the civil war. This is an excerpt from a man written to his wife on fighting against his brother:
“It is rather bad to think that we should be fighting him on the one side and me on the other for he says he was in the fort during the whole engagement(.) I hope to god that he and I will get safe through it all and he will have his story to tell about his side and I will have my story to tell about my side.”
While I know that the “wars” erupting on Facebook is not the same as shooting muskets at your friends, lifelong friendships are being torn apart, and families are not speaking to one another. Is there an option where we stay sane and survive as a whole until November 3rd, or more importantly, the following days?
Try to stay off social media
If there is a way to maintain our sanity, it starts with reducing (or completely removing) ourselves from social media triggers. Social media is just a landmine of posts from crazy people, memes mocking the candidate and values that you hold dear, misinformation, and bickering. That is an accurate statement, no matter which “side” you are on.
There are a few things that you can do to help mitigate the damage to your blood pressure. Deleting your great-aunt Ruthie might be a step too far for you, but you can snooze her for 30 days! If her Trump is terrific (or Biden is excellent) posts are annoying you, snooze her. They don’t know that you do it, although I suspect some have snoozed me…
If you see something on social media that makes your blood boil, take a deep breath. Try to remember that something resonated with the person who shared it, but this post may not accurately reflect who they are as a whole.
You likely have more in common with this person than you feel now. I think it is crucial to remember that people are much more than what they share online.
Keep having conversations, but avoid arguing with people
An open dialogue can help foster a lot of new ideas and help people discover common ground. The points of these conversations should be to remain civil and understand someone else’s point of view.
The goal here is not to debate around and around in circles until someone has an epiphany…that will make you nuts. It is a means to connect with people who think of things differently than we do, and hopefully, remember that we are all Americans.
Once a conversation takes a turn toward being unproductive, then it is vital to walk away. It is doubtful that you will influence someone else to change their vote, as this election has stirred deep passions, ideologies, and values for nearly everyone. Walking away from a heated debate will be more beneficial to your mental health.
Vote as early as you can and then stop engaging in all things political
If you are like most people, then you already know the candidate that has your vote. If your state has early voting, do it, and then take a break from the debates, the news, and anything else that has to do with the process.
Please fill out your mail-in ballot as soon as you get it. There is no reason to have it sit there if you have decided. That will give you plenty of time to take it to your state’s approved drop off locations or get it in the mail.
Once your vote has been cast, there is nothing to be gained by watching the debates, campaign rallies, or speeches. Being an informed citizen is a duty of the American people, but driving ourselves bat sh*t crazy is not.
Your sanity matters, your health matters, and your feelings matter. Voting is the one thing you can do that affects the election results, so do it and then move on.
Don’t turn into someone you don’t like
I caught myself thinking and even saying some hateful things yesterday. In my moment of anger and fear, they seemed utterly justifiable. However, one of my most significant issues with the current administration has been the lack of empathy, compassion, and respect for other human beings.
If I allow myself to become as callous as the people I think are awful, then I am no better than they are. A wise first lady once said, “When they go low, we go high.” There is a good reason for that kind of thinking.
When you allow the hatred and vitriol of others to change who you are, then they have indeed won. How can you preach that we are better than “this,” when we have become the thing we hate?
Prepare yourself for the winner of the election
We will make it through all of this… and they will declare a winner. How we react to whoever wins is the next controllable action. Fighting with your friends, being angry, and resenting The President will help nothing. Instead, try a little activism!
Volunteer at the local level of your community government, march for causes that matter to you, or write an op-ed! Heck, run for a branch of local government yourself! Be the change you want to see in the world, inspire others, and act as an American citizen.
If you are so upset with the current state of the country, there is good news. You are not bound to live your life here. Now, I don’t mean this in the snarky mantra of, “If you don’t like it, then leave!” But…there are many other beautiful countries in the entire world, and you only live once.
If you wake up every day asking yourself why you live in a place that would choose a leader such as whoever won, then maybe get a work visa and live abroad for a while.
If you work remotely, go on an extended vacation and think about where you might want to live next. I know I have a few ideas. We have people trying to find a way to live in actual outer space, so I am sure you can figure out how to live in other parts of the world!
In the end
Be true to yourself, always. You can choose how much media you consume, and what types of it you watch. The decision to vote and who to vote for is entirely within your control. How we treat others is a testament to who we are. In America, activism is encouraged, so if that is something you are called to do, then really do it!
The world is small, but it is much bigger than our one country. You are also a free person who is not trapped here. Think of how much we can learn by experiencing other cultures and countries for a little while. You have options and going insane is not the only one on the table. Stay safe and stay well. And please vote!