My daughter is not yet 6.
I’m watching her swinging for a few minutes before we get ready for karate. Her crazy blonde curls are flying everywhere and she has the biggest grin. Joy. Open. Kind. Pure.
20 minutes before, in the car heading home from the precinct after I cast my vote for my registered party’s presidential candidate, my brilliant daughter was talking about what she thinks makes a good president. She said the president should have courage and should help people.
And then, in the simplest of ways explained why a president should seek to resolve conflict, not create it- should seek to solve problems not create division. She said if people don’t get along and just go on to the next friend, and then don’t get along and move to the next friend and keep going and going like that, pretty soon the whole world will just be mad at each other and not listening.
No matter what happens in the election today, or in November, or in 4 or 8 or 12 years from now, I will make a commitment to myself and to my child that I will continue to love and to be kind. I will seek to understand the other side, even if I don’t agree, and in conflict will strive to do so with respect.
I will do my best to live up to my daughter’s expectations for a president, so by default, a leader: to have courage and to help people.
As a therapist I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how people feel, how people think and how and why they behave certain ways.
As a therapist who specializes in trauma, I have spent countless hours with people who have trusted me enough to share details of horrific things they have been through. I have seen the devastating and long term effects caused by the violence of man.
I have seen what living in a near constant state of fear does to the human spirit. How it impacts relationships. How emotions and perceptions are affected. I have even seen how people lash out with anger and aggression because of fear.
But I have also seen hope and I have seen healing. I have experienced healing. I have never seen healing happen from fear or anger. The moments of healing happen in a place of love and compassion. They happen when people are open to receiving and giving kindness. It happens when someone stands defiantly up to the fear- refusing to let the fear color their world anymore.
It would be easy for me to let my fears of what might be or what could happen win. To circle the wagons and insulate myself and my loved ones from a cruel, harsh world. And it is a cruel, harsh world. But it’s also beautiful and peaceful and interesting and joyous and weird and so much more. I live with eyes wide open to the beauty and to the danger.
And every day I make a choice to approach myself and others with kindness. Every day I choose to contribute to the healing of others, of myself, of society. I choose to live in a way that reflects the kind of world I want for my daughter. I choose to make my love greater than my fear.