The Election, Ellen, & Being Human
"If you take away the labels you realize we're far more alike than we are different."
On Election Day last year, my social media feeds were a reckless, runaway train. I understand that the election was particularly divisive, but was still surprised at some of the content. Know this isn't a post on that or even politics inherently, but instead a video that encouraged me to respond in a more venerated way.
The video was from Ellen's show opening that day. I found it kept popping up on my feed as friends shared it on it's way to going viral. Her monologue encouraged us to focus on our responsibilities as citizens going forward and the commonalities that we share.
“For instance no matter what your politics are, we all have that feeling of stepping out of the shower and realizing you left the towel completely across the bathroom and you have to do that shimmy on the bathmat all the way across. We all do that thing when you’re pulling into a parking garage and you duck your head just to make sure you make it. Doesn’t matter if you are liberal or if you’re conservative we have all passed out watching Netflix woke up not knowing what episode we’re on, what season we’re on, whose couch we’re on. What I’m trying to say is we have so in common our differences actually make us stronger. We need to have the kindness and respect for one another…”
I loved the heart of this message; that it’s okay to have differences. Someday, we might even be able to celebrate or respect them without judging the person who stands on the other side of the aisle. Hopefully, we will be able to get to a point where we act gracefully in the face of disagreements or differing fundamentals. Inspired by Ellen’s words, I did some thinking of my own to identify some of these non-partisan, human, life moments that tie us together.
- Grabbing your full coffee cup (sans lid) too hard right under the rim and having it spill out everywhere. My guess is that you were wearing a new outfit or stark white shirt that day.
- The daily occurrence of where is my phone, where are my keys, where are my glasses. Answer: in your hand, in your hand, and on your face.
- Tripping and/or falling and doing that quick scan to see who witnessed your blunder (followed by that sigh of relief if no one’s around).
- Getting dressed in a hurry, getting home at night, discovering that it has been inside out for the entire day.
- Getting into real, committed fights with your friends and family while playing Settlers of Catan. Seriously, put that robber on my land one more time. In the good ol’ college days there were Settlers’ fueled fights that lasted dayyyyys. No joke.
- Going on YouTube to watch that ONE video and magically an hour has passed and you’re 15+ videos deep into “Dogs acting like people.”
- That moment when you pretend to know what a word means but as soon as the meeting ends, you Google it.
- Going to the gym to work out and coming to realize you’re just standing on an elliptical because you're fully engrossed in what’s happening on House Hunters.
- You have your cell phone in one hand and milk in the other. Guess which one ends up in the fridge…
- Getting caught by the driver next to you full on auditioning for American Idol at the spotlight. Sing it pal.
- Saying, “I love you” as you get off the phone with a co-worker or end of a conference call. Crickets.
- Bursting out of bed in full panic mode because you are late for work only to realize it’s Saturday morning. Drop the toothbrush, head back to bed.
The ways we are connected aren’t all funny but they are just as palpable. We have all had a disheartening day that ends with a good cry. We have all had those moments when we struggle to find what our purpose is (and then freak out about whether or not we are fulfilling it). We have all felt like what we are walking through is too heavy for our soul to bear. We have all felt alone, inadequate, and small. Unfortunately, we have all been hurt and caused hurt for others.
But maybe, we can take all of these moments and use them to establish some common ground. Both the humorous and painful can bring refreshing understanding of the people in our tribe along with individuals we don’t feel as connected to. Importantly, I don’t think this means ignoring your beliefs or pretending as though we don’t have differences. We don't always need to arrive at the same opinion and shouldn't avoid engaging in conversations just because they might be stretching. But, it introduces respect into those engagements and allows us to focus on our similarities vs. the gaps.
There is healing when we reach for acceptance before throwing stones; there is humanizing beauty in that kind of love.