Here in the USA, I feel as if we’re going through a four-year long election day with no end in sight. As I write this, there’s a projected winner in the presidential race but no official winner and people are kvetching on both sides. What bothers me even more is that people are disconnecting from other people in their lives over this election. I see posts all the time on my social media feed- “If you’re voting for _______, unfriend me now.” People are losing friends, new and old, over it. They’re disconnecting from family members over it. I’m hearing about spouses who are disconnecting over it. It’s a total mess.
I honestly feel that it doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice. That’s the whole point of voting. We can choose which candidate we feel will do the job best or which candidate will be the least of all evils. I’m very grateful for my right to vote and I hope to never take it for granted. But that’s not the only area where we have a choice.
We can choose to believe the extremist propaganda about “the other guy is/will be a total disaster” or we can choose to take it with a large (and well-deserved) grain of salt.
We can choose to harangue our friends and family over why our candidate is right and theirs is wrong or we can choose to agree to disagree and stick to topics that connect us to them.
We can choose to debate over politics or we can choose to debate over other things, such as the merits of a double-breasted jacket vs. a single-breasted jacket (double-breasted doesn’t flatter most bodies) or fudgy vs. cakey brownies (cakey is a sacrilege).
We can choose to believe that our friends and family are as evil as the candidate they support or we can choose to remember that they’re here for us as opposed to any candidates who don’t even know our names.
We can choose to dismiss our friends and family’s voting choices as wrong or misguided or we can choose to remember that their voting choices are valid and well-thought-out and have nothing to do with us just as our voting choices are valid and well-thought-out and have nothing to do with them.
We can choose to disconnect with our loved ones over people who don’t even know our names or we can choose to stay connected.
We just read in Parshat Vayeira about Avraham Avinu running out to greet guests. Rabbi Mark Wildes says that his action demonstrates the importance of reaching out and connecting. He describes it like a meeting between the boss and an employee that gets interrupted by customers. The boss wants the employee to go out and help the customers because that’s good business. They’re making the choice to connect. Connecting with our friends and family is even more important than any business.
We all have the choice to connect or disconnect. I choose to connect.