Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 10/20/2008 [Archive]

United We Stand For Something

United We Stand for Something

By Martha Randolph Carr

The presidential election draws nigh and with the results some people will feel victorious while others may feel left out in the cold because their team lost. However, unlike most competitions this one was set up in 1776 with an understanding that the winner has to go on to represent all of us. We may divide ourselves into groups while we are choosing a leader, but we come together as one once the counting is done. No one takes home trophies while the other side has to watch glumly.

None of us are losers because we wake up the next day and we're still citizens of the United States who get to squabble, concede and make compromises in order to determine our own fate. The whole thing is rigged in our favor even if we don't always like all of the details.

It's true that we will still use an endless number of distinctions to divide or to bunch together. It's an ability that at its best is enormously powerful like what happened the day after September 11th, 2001 when everyone started flying the American flag to show that no matter where we lived in the U.S. we were one nation grieving together and we would figure out what came next the same way. We may have all been afraid but we knew we weren't alone because we had each other.

It's also healing when we use this strength in times of loss or recovery like when people who have survived breast cancer or are struggling with addiction come together to share their stories of courage and lean just a little for some strength. Sometimes it's even amusing like at a giant Star Trek convention where it's possible to see an entire family of four dressed up like Klingons out for a fun weekend.

It has its dark side too. We have been known to single out people who are different and try to keep them from jobs or opportunities and we definitely didn't want them as friends.

But, no matter how much we have argued or hurt each other in the past we have also learned from our mistakes and show up again the next day to try it a little differently. Maybe even step outside of what we have always known and reach in the direction of our new neighbors.

So, on Tuesday, November 4th go out there and vote for the candidate who you believe will best represent all Americans for the next four years and feel a little gratitude that all across the country millions of people are doing the same act of patriotism that day, no matter their choice. Don't opt out because no one suited all of the things on your list. Work with the system and build something rather than refusing to create anything at all. That's arrogance at its best and accomplishes nothing but a smug feeling of being right and standing alone.

And then, on Wednesday regardless of who is elected president, get up and look for ways to keep solving the problems we face together while building on what we have done right so far. Try to listen for areas where compromise is possible and allow an idea that we can disagree on some points and still work together. What history keeps teaching us over and over again is that it takes input from all of us to come up with the best solutions. We veer too far to one side or the other when we insist on trying to silence others.

A special thank you to all of the families serving in the armed forces who have given their lives, their time and their talents and have made it possible for all of us to keep talking it over.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Martha's Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com. Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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