2020 in the United States is undoubtedly a year “which will live in infamy.” This “annus horribilis,” to quote her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, certainly echoes events in the life of the British queen, as her children’s marriages began to fall apart and Windsor Castle merrily burned. The parallels would be entertaining if not so tragic.

As I began thinking about this blog, the election was a couple of days in the future. Yesterday, I spent my day as an election official in Crabtree Township in Yancey County. Things went very smoothly – no rudeness, no electioneering of any kind except for signage appropriately placed outside, no flag waving pickup trucks roaring up and down the hill, as they have been doing for weeks now in this county – just a steady flow of friends and neighbors coming to their appointed place to cast their votes. My fellow election officials, who undoubtedly voted in different ways, all worked together in harmony to get the job done. Someday (and I hope to live to see it), when our federal government begins to once again function in a like manner, we will have turned a corner in the incessant political hostilities and intractable divisions that have become a hallmark of partisan politics in this country. One can hope.

As I sit here contemplating and watching the rather astonishing returns come in, however, my heart has to sink a bit. Even after the last four truly unbelievable years, marked by unnecessary illness and death and an apparent failure of responsibility from the very top echelons of our government, an astonishing number of our fellow Americans obviously want four more years of division, rancor and whistling in the wind rather than facing harsh realities and the inevitability of change, very like objecting to plate tectonics, all the while being spun off into different land masses, with widening oceans.

So….no matter who sits in the White House in 2021, we all know that we have our work cut out for us as Unitarian Universalists. Not in partisan politics, but in kindness, polite discourse, patience, and hard work, doing the very hard work of listening and friendly persuasion, two things I have yet to even begin to master.

Maya Angelou said, “If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone, or you’re too sick to be angry. You SHOULD be angry. You must NOT be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So, use that anger, yes. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”

Yesterday was long and exhausting for me, but I am proud to have participated. I hope someday to be able to say that about my government.

Judy Harper, Board of Trustees