Photo by Terri Givens — Redwoods National Park

Today I finally felt it. I felt the weight come off of my shoulders and I felt like I could see the light again. It has been a tough four years, and it has been much worse than I could have ever imagined four years ago. Although I still feel like we are in the middle of a nightmare with a raging pandemic that is threatening lives across the nation, today I felt hope.

The day of the election and the days after unfolded like so many of my political scientist friends had envisioned, the counting designed to keep us from learning the outcome for days. Trump’s stalwarts continued to feed his ego, while we anxiously awaited the final count from the states of Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona. We celebrated that Saturday night when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris first took the stage to address the nation as our President and Vice-President-elect.

A week later, I walked in the sun, enjoyed the company of a friend (masked and socially distanced) and felt more energy than I have in a long time. I know that in a short time we will have a competent government in place that actually wants to save lives. Unfortunately, too many will be lost as we await that change in government.

But today, I will enjoy the fact that I am ready to fight again, even for those who voted against their own interests. One of the most importat things we can do in the days ahead is to try and hang on while we get through the transition. It was never going to be easy, and the divisions that have developed aren’t going away.

I have been working on practicing Radical Empathy, the focus of my forthcoming book. Of course, having empathy is important, but that doesn’t mean we need to ignore the fact that over 70 million people supported a candidate who had racism, sexism and xenophobia at the center of his campaign. We must be prepared to fight for the rights of all, and the focus will shift to the local and state level over the next few months. I am hopeful that the power of love will be able to push back the fears that keeps us divided.

I will do my best to hang on to this feeling, it will be very difficult as our country faces an unimaginable tragedy. As COVID-19 takes its toll, so many will be negatively impacted, and some will lose their lives. As we face one of the worst crises in my lifetime, I am ready to do whatever I can to help with the healing.

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