Our two major political parties can’t seem to agree on issues, policies, and even basic facts. It’s time for us to take a deep breath — and look in the mirror together.
The America we want to see reflected back to us is the America we want the world to see. The land of the free. A (small “d” and “r) democratic republic of justice and equality. A country that’s the “fairest one of all.”
But what does our mirror see when it looks at us today?
Perhaps it sees our worst. A lack of respectful exchanges and a glut of nasty barbs. An absence of the give and take that have historically defined us and gotten our work done. An intricate tapestry, woven together in our 245 years as a nation, in danger of unravelling.
Seeing Through the Mist
In her poem Mirror, the iconic writer Sylvia Plath makes her mirror a narrator. The mirror describes itself this way:
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful.”
This mirror does not hide or distort. It reflects exactly what it sees. It tells the truth.
How will we tell our mirror what to swallow? How will we change our reflections?
“Democracy is about seeing each other not as rivals but as neighbors.”
-John Meacham, presidential historian
For starters, we can see through the mist of our denial. Reaffirm democracy as the way that’s always worked best for us in solving the problems we share. Call out what’s at stake if we fail to come together.
Being Worthy of Democracy
Presidential historian Jon Meacham, interviewed on MSNBC, stripped our collective challenge to its essence: “This is on us. This is on we the people. Because democracies are counterintuitive, because we’re driven by appetite and ambition. That’s what we are as human beings. And democracy is about seeing each other not as rivals but as neighbors. We do not see each other as neighbors in America at this hour. And if we don’t, maybe we aren’t worthy of this democracy.”
Instead of blaming and shaming, fixating on who did what to whom, what if we looked at ourselves with the objective reflection of the exacting mirror? Seeing each other with no preconceptions and no cruelty in how we speak to, and about, those with whom we disagree? Using social media not to attack but to attract others in the shared quest for the greater good — and reflecting together, over and over, on what that greater good is? And why we are worthy of democracy?
Our best way forward is to learn from this divided time, looking to elect leaders who pursue what works for all of us. Who mirror the values of cooperation and compromise. And who realize that #5050x2028 — roughly half women and half men in elected offices by 2028 — is how we will bring to the table all our united selves.
©2021 Women’s Campaign Fund