What a sight for sore eyes it has been to see happy crowds dancing in the streets, impromptu parades of cars honking in jubilation, and people exhibiting downright joy upon learning the 2020 election results. Citizens in San Francisco, New York, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, and, of course, outside the White House in Washington DC, spilled into parks and avenues to celebrate Joe Biden as President-elect and Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect of the United States. Merrymaking went well into the night with Sunday morning social media filled with posts of “sleeping like a rock” for the first time in many months. The entire world has been affected by this year’s events, but none so much as the United States. It seems like every person in the US and even other countries sighed collectively at the election results, much like a pressure cooker letting out steam.
The elation and happiness took us by a bit by surprise, even considering the days of suspense waiting for the election results. But feeling good makes sense because now we have some idea of what the future will hold. We are experiencing an immediate change in tone with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Mr. Biden’s agreeable, composed approach is an indicator of normalcy and predictability — two undervalued qualities we desperately need today. We will benefit from a dialing down of rhetoric and a tuning in to unwavering dependability. We crave a sense of security to plan without fear of daily disruption and to feel less on edge.
For many reasons, this past year has found us pitted against each other, even when we weren’t aware of it. We have a new way of moving forward in civility and cooperation. I’m certain this easing of tension will allow us to treat each other with benevolence. When calm enters our headspace, empathy can enter our heart space. We can do more than co-exist. We can live side-by-side as neighbors, share ideas, appreciate our differences, and work together. We can feel good acting and reacting with renewed integrity. We will experience the small joys of life again — and they will feel big.
Of course, we are in the throes of a pandemic, and that is just one harsh reality. We have come to terms with serious social injustices this year. We have set a new bar for our friendships, partnerships, allies, and work environments. And for good reason. We can’t let the hard-fought struggles and lessons of 2020 go to waste. We must act with an understanding that our words matter, our choices matter, and goodness matters. At the same time, we can embrace the happiness and relief we are feeling. We can let go of our hard-knuckled grip on the wheel and build unity whenever possible. We can exhale. And when we take our next breath, we can make it a good one. We can breathe in what is good and carry that with us wherever we go in our ever-changing, now promising world.