“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” – R.E.M.
“Every generation thinks it’s the last, thinks it’s the end of the world.” – Wilco
As I write this column, Election Day — Election Season — is grinding to its inevitable end. By the time this is published, we’ll (hopefully) know who won. And maybe, just maybe, life can get a bit more back to normal.
People have been predicting the end of the world since there have been people making predictions. In 66 A.D., the Jewish Essene sect of ascetics saw the Jewish uprising against the Romans in 66–70 in Judea as the final end-time battle.
Since then, there have been numerous doomsday predictions and forecasts, and they all have one thing in common: none of them came true. From Pat Robertson’s prediction that the end would come in 1982, to Jerry Falwell’s belief that we were all doomed on January 1, 2000, to psychic Jeane Dixon’s forecast of the Final Day in 2020 (she was wrong when she said it would happen earlier in 1962) — it seems Armageddon is harder to happen than many believe.
So when this election season is over, and the end of the world doesn’t happen, what do we do?
How about we just keep on living?
We have had more than a few elections in the history of these United States. Somehow, the republic has survived. If your state of physical and mental well-being rests solely on the outcome of this election, then you may be doing life wrong.
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom wrote, “To be honest, I am less concerned with what we do Tuesday than what we do Wednesday, Thursday, and every day thereafter. My biggest fear isn’t who sits in the Oval Office come January; if the rest of us keep conducting ourselves the way we have been the last six months, it won’t make a difference.”
Albom continues, “We’ve lost friends, alienated families, split our communities by lawn signs. We have hurt one another, emotionally and even sometimes physically. Yet far from looking at our guilty hands in regret, we continue to make fists and shake them across the great divide.
“Is this who we want to be?”
Two years ago, I wrote these words: “We have lost sight of the abundant majority of the things we all have in common over the issues that divide us. We have forgotten that we are Americans first.
“If you believe that someone is less American than you are because of his or her vote in the last election, you are part of the problem. America was the melting pot, the Great Experiment, the shining beacon on the hill. Our values, our compassion, our fighting spirit and our humanity were ideas to which people around the world aspired. We achieved great things. Created technological marvels. We even invented rock and roll and went to the moon!
“All of these achievements were created with the can-do attitude that we were America, and we could do anything if we came together and just did it. Our great legislators knew when to fight and when to compromise to solve problems and work toward that Greater Good. Partisans like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill fought hard for their issues, but still worked together and had a cocktail together at day’s end. Neither doubted how American the other was.
“Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey knew that. Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy knew that. John McCain and John Kerry knew that. Barack Obama and George W. Bush knew that. But if we, as a people, don’t start remembering it quickly, then the enemies we do have, from without and within, will win.”
Perhaps now that this election is over, we might take our first steps toward bridging that great divide. We are Americans first — and no matter who won or lost, Armageddon is not upon us.
I’ll leave you with another lyric from a song that has been of comfort to me this year, written by Paul Simon: “We come on a ship that’s called the Mayflower, we come on a ship that sailed the moon. We come in our age’s most uncertain hour, and sing an American tune.”