Today is my birthday and I absolutely refuse to be discouraged.
The gloomy predictions about the future of democracy, threatened violence in reaction to the indictment of a former president, increasing gun violence and the warning signs of a climate change tipping point make my statement seem naïve at best, insane at worst.
But the 2022 midterm elections reminded us again that when one of the three branches of government makes a move contrary to the wishes of the American public, democracy flexes its muscles and steers the ship back on course. Yes, the House flipped, but not with the red wave predicted. It gave Kevin McCarthy an ungovernable majority and kept the Democrats in control of the Senate. And Joe Biden showed that for all the angst over his age and unpopularity, when the doors close, the sleeves are rolled up, and the negotiating starts, he remains the most underrated politician of the 21st Century.
The young people of America turned same-sex marriage into a non-issue a decade ago, and I am confident they will eventually do the same with gun control and our unfortunate attack on transgender rights. While Ron DeSantis and others are losing their minds over gender identity, the younger generation is quietly asking what pronouns are preferred. With the abortion ban, book burning, gun rights politics, and attacks on an honest teaching of American history, one political party is step- by-step advancing to the end of the limb. When you take a careful look at the polls, they are moving farther and farther away from most Americans.
The Federal indictment of a former President demonstrates that the wheels of justice, though maddingly slow, still protect the rule of law and hold all Americans accountable. By all signs, there are more state and federal indictments to come. I predict that they will reveal more damaging facts about the actions of the former President. I totally agree with those who say that you cannot try and convict a person in the press. The danger of damaging someone’s image and destroying their life set a high bar for ensuring that the press has their facts straight. But, as the January 6 Hearings demonstrated, when you put people under oath, you often hear in public the identical storyline that the press hears in private. And let’s admit it, to the objective observer, the former president showed us who he was time after time. You can’t unsee some of the antics of those four long years.
While violence has been threatened, the Justice Department’s indictment, conviction, and incarceration of over 200 January 6 insurrectionists has changed the calculus of taking up arms against our government. With four of the leaders getting double digit sentences, the talk of civil war has been quieted.
On a more personal note, both of my granddaughters just finished a successful year of public elementary school education in Guilford County, North Carolina. They are thriving in a diverse environment where learning, caring for each other, and having fun are the priorities. Their love for learning is radiant and their embrace of the golden rule is who they are. They are saddle mates on my ride to the sunshine.
I am part of a church community that used technology, creativity, and love for one another to navigate the pandemic and steam back to port better than ever. Led by capable clergy and assisted by a dedicated professional staff, we are welcoming new members daily and taking care of our own and our wider community.
Raleigh sits in the middle of the strongest medical research and care regions of the world. Any city would be blessed to have the medical support that either WakeMed, REX, or Duke provide every day. We have all three. Add the Burroughs-Welcome Foundation, and the many pharmaceutical startups in and around Research Triangle Park and you can truly say we live in the miracle district where life-sciences are being used to lengthen and improve our lives.
Yes, we have challenges here; housing supply, transportation planning, sensible growth, and an increasing disconnect between our elected officials and our needs. But elections have consequences and we have some consequential trips to the polls coming up in North Carolina.
In a world and a system where we all depend on each other, we do not have the time or the luxury to be discouraged. (maybe for a day or two, but not as a feature length film). We have to get up, make our beds, and plan our days around helping others. When we pick up our phones, we need to stop scrolling and start calling. We have friends who are lonely and need to hear from us. We have non-profits that need our volunteer hours and churches that need our talents and our treasure. Positivity is all about focus.
Are we Ted Lasso or Ted Cruz?