In October 2020, I avoided death by inches. An oncoming van skidded into our lane as my husband, daughter, and I traversed a narrow pass through the North Carolina mountains. We swerved to avoid a head on collision and rolled to a stop at the brink of a steep overhang.
There was no guardrail. Inches of roadside gravel separated us from a fatal plunge.
I jumped out of the car when it came to a stop. I’m not sure why. It was reflexive, instinctive.
As if my body felt a sudden compelling need to be undergirded by the grounding of solid earth beneath my feet. I peered over the edge of that cliff and saw averted disaster staring back at me.
And as my heart rate slowed from it’s adrenaline infused palpitations---my entire body exhaled a sigh of relief...fully embracing the almost of what had transpired.
I had a similar experience last night.
As evening progressed I dozed, and woke up, and dozed and woke up...DEEPLY desiring to go to sleep and STAY asleep, yet fueled by a curiosity to know the senate election outcome.
And not because I am a Democrat. I am not. And not because I put my faith in a political party. I do not. And not because I believe any one candidate holds the answers to all that ails us. I know better!
It’s because I'm an American, who has felt a mixed soup of emotions as I’ve watched leaders in government and religion whose views I thought I knew, whose values I thought I understood, excuse the inexcusable, justify the unjustifiable, and turn a blind eye to the unimaginable.
Over the last 4 years I’ve had multiple epiphanies as the scales fell from my eyes and I was forced to come to terms with the dark reality of resurgent racism, unbridled xenophobia, normalization of serial dishonesty, desecration of democratic norms, and the wholesale enabling of malignant narcissism.
And just when I thought I understood, and was enlightened, and had processed an unfortunate multitude of egregious truths...the last two months happened.
And I watched AGHAST in a tortured blend of angst, grief, lament, and fury as a defeated President launched a propaganda campaign about election fraud, spun a tangled web of lies, touted seditious calls for violence, and culminated with a brazen attempt to bully the Georgia Secretary of State into altering election results on his behalf.
And yet.....an entire segment of the “church”, and a faction of the US Congress, took up residence in this alternate reality and excused it. Sitting in complicit, deafening silence at best. Making excuses and blaming the few brave dissenters at worst. All of it emblematic of their revised definition of "patriotism", and the "will of God"....which has been reduced to Unwavering loyalty to an aspiring autocrat.
I once naively believed this type of situation was not possible in America. I never imagined it would be spearheaded by a sitting president.
I was wrong.
I awakened around 3AM, saw the outcomes, and for a brief moment, was again my October 2020 self.
Standing on the precipice of calamity. Exhaling a full body sigh of relief. Only this time it was for our nation, and democratic norms, and the sacredness of free and fair elections.
Pausing to consider the heavy blow to democracy we’d avoided, but too tender to linger long in thoughts of “what if”.
I hold no illusions that Democrats have all the answers.
I'm aware that close to half the nation has accepted the unfounded narrative of a rigged election.
I lament the heartbreaking realization, that the concept of liberty and justice for ALL, which is supposed to be a CORE American principle, is for many, a belief in liberty and justice for SOME.
A plethora of long held suppositions have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
But for today, I pause to revel in gratitude that the hands of an 82 year old Black mother who once picked Georgia cotton, used her hands in 2021 to send her son to the senate.
I rejoice that he will be joined by John Ossoff, the first Jewish senator from Georgia since the 1880’s.
I inhale possibility, I exhale hope. I stand in open hearted optimism, inspired by a passion for what’s possible from here