Election season is upon us again, as is the holiday season. Elections—like holidays—can bring out the best and the worst of us. By the time you read this, we will be in the waning days of the midterm elections and our Texas gubernatorial election cycle, or we will have already determined who will represent us at the Texas Capitol, the Governor’s Office, or the U.S. Capitol. Or you might be reading this in the middle of the holidays. You might be memorializing a loved one whose physical absence is resoundingly obvious this time of year. 

Over the past couple of years, we have had to strive relentlessly to return to “normalcy” while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. We watched too many family members and read about too many friends who battled or even died battling a virus that seemed to strike when we were inadequately prepared. We also saw people we never knew become the friends we never knew we needed step up to support those impacted the most by this virus. Humanity found a way to shine through the darkest of hours.

Over the past couple of years, we have dealt with extreme cold temperatures resulting in the loss of life during the Winter Storm of 2021, and extreme hot temperatures resulting in the loss of commercial crops and produce in the Texas Panhandle. But we learned how to conserve energy and water resources, proving our empathy and belief in utilitarianism. 

Over the past couple of years, our nation has grieved the tragic deaths of children in schools, adults in market places, patrons of public attractions, and public servants in the line of duty. Our rallying cry, “Enough is enough,” seemingly was heard when the United States Congress ultimately passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to address the issue of gun violence. Action was taken when few thought it possible.

When life has seemed to be the most overwhelming, our instinctual desire to survive has always been matched with our faith and resilience. Though we may not always agree on the appropriate steps toward a resolution, we always seem to march forward. Our finite time here on earth demands that we love and serve as we ought to—without regard to what others may do or how others may elect to live their lives. Therefore, we must all strive to devote our service to the people or causes we hold in great esteem, exercise our fundamental rights as Americans by voting, and extend grace to others—even when we disagree.

Whether you consider yourself to be left or right of center, most would agree the political thermostat has reached an earth-scorching high, while our political discourse has precipitously fallen to an abysmal low. Have we not all suffered enough without having to add political incivility to the equation? If the past two years taught us anything, it should have been that we are far more dependent on one another than we were previously led to believe. 

We can disagree and we should disagree. However, we should not allow our disagreements to lead us to hate one another. Whether you consider yourself a conservative, moderate, or perhaps neither ideological category, your perspective matters. Monolithic “group-think” leads to isolation from reality, which interferes with the successful transfer of governing authority. This results in the loss of life, destruction of property, and chaos. What we need to prove more than ever is that we genuinely care about the effects of laws impacting our lives, a common respect for our democratic republic, and the ability to peacefully exercise our most fundamental rights without being chastised for the personal experiences which have led to our own political beliefs. Regardless of the outcome of any election, irrespective of our preferences, the results of the election will always be finalized and certified. 

When the political advertisements end and the loudest voices are barely a whisper, we then must decide whether to work peacefully for the betterment of our neighborhoods or be responsible for further tearing them down. We have to decide if we are going to build bridges which lead to understanding, tolerance and unity or if we are going to construct barriers to progress. Every election cycle provides opportunities to select between candidates or ideals. But it is the time between election cycles that determines whether or not we are truly committed to making real the promises of democracy. 

This holiday season needs to be different. It should be different. As our families gather around dinner tables or pray hand in hand, let us reaffirm our commitment to lead lives filled with love. Let us strive daily to ensure our nation is more united than what it has recently become. The truth is, we all are either anticipating or dreading something over the next couple of months. I pray we can all find grace within and extend that grace to one another. 

Author

  • Patrick Miller

    Patrick Miller is President of the Amarillo Branch NAACP and assistant principal at Eastridge Elementary. In 2021, he completed a 6-year term on the Amarillo College Board of Regents, to which he was elected at the age of 25. He has earned Master’s degrees in both teaching and educational leadership from WTAMU and has served in a variety of leadership roles within the Amarillo Independent School District.