Well… it’s over. About 64 million of us are pleased with the result and nearly 57 million of us are disappointed and perhaps anxious.
Elections are inherently divisive. In order to succeed, all candidates must show the differences between themselves and their opponents. Otherwise, there would be no advantage to voting for one versus the other. It seems to me, though, that each Presidential election seems to bring out new lows in character assassination and ad hominem attacks.
Now that the election is over, however, if the candidate that we were supporting lost, then we must find a way to look at the other candidate as our President. Both sides must find a way to set aside our differences with neighbors, friends or colleagues who supported the other candidate. We must find a way to live together with people whose views are different than our own. We must minimize the desire to divide our country into Red America and Blue America.
Although it might be difficult, we would certainly not be the first to reconcile after a stark disagreement. This week in Parashat Lech L’cha, we read of the great difficulty between Yitzhak and Yishmael – the two sons of Avraham. Their rivalry caused great pain in their family. They could not even live together. However, in two weeks’ time, we will read Parashat Hayei Sarah in which Avraham’s death is described. We learn in that Torah portion that “his sons Yitzhak and Yishmael buried him (Gen 25:9).” Sadly, it took their father’s passing to bring them back together, but ultimately they did in fact come together.
Furthermore, both of these sons had a grievance with their father. Avraham bound Yitzhak to an altar and almost sacrificed him to God. He also kicked Yishmael out of their home. They ultimately were able to overcome any hard feelings that they harbored for their father. Although the Torah tells us nothing of Yitzhak and Yishmael’s relationship from that day forward, on that critical day, they created Shalom Bayit – domestic tranquility – where it had been sorely lacking.
The truth is that reconciliation is not restricted to politics and the Bible. We all have people in our lives – or who used to be a part of our lives – with whom we must reconcile. There are friends with whom we have lost touch, or family members with whom we hold a grudge. It is not easy to reach out. We have all built up walls of defense to keep the pain out. In order to reach out, we must break through those walls.
As we think about how our country may change as a result of Tuesday’s election, may we have all have the strength to look at ourselves honestly, to look to God for support, to subjugate our egos and to act kindly toward others as we strive to repair the damaged relationships in our lives.