Exhaustion

 I am exhausted.
            I am exhausted by the Supreme Court fight. I am exhausted over mail-in ballots. I am exhausted about peaceful transitions. I am exhausted about systemic racism, and destruction of cities, and the fate of Roe v. Wade, and Black Lives Matter, and COVID-19, and wearing masks.
            The answers to each of these questions seem obvious to me. And guess what: to the person who disagrees with me on each of my obvious answers, that person’s answers are just as obvious to him.
            In the meantime, while we have all become exhausted, I see a deterioration in the way we treat each other. No president, no Supreme Court justice, no senate majority leader can make us treat each other with kindness.
            2020 has been a difficult year for every single one of us. The simple pleasures that we have enjoyed – visiting with friends, sharing a meal, taking a vacation, doing our work – have been taken away. And for those who are among the nearly 7 million Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID, the fear of dealing with the deadly disease is existential and must be overwhelming.
            I have a good friend who is a successful medical doctor and entrepreneur. He is the epitome of the American success story. He has a beautiful wife and two beautiful children. He pays his taxes, employs hundreds of people in his businesses, and provides health services that have kept tens of thousands of people healthy during the pandemic. I met him through our mutual love of baseball – the most American of sports.  
            His parents emigrated from China to America and he grew up in New York City, attending public schools there.
            Last week, he and his wife ventured out for the first time since March to enjoy a meal at a New York restaurant. He finally thought it was worth it to take the risk even though he is acutely aware of the dangers of COVID. He and his wife were dining outside.
            While he was sitting there, a man walked up to him and yelled at him, because he is Asian, “This is all your fault!” and then bombarded him and his wife with a racial slur.
            This anecdote is not designed to inflame your outrage toward others. That guy is every one of us. He is us each time we act without kindness to our fellow human beings. He is us every time we fail to understand what our neighbor is going through. He is us every time we refuse to recognize the pain experienced in every person’s life.
            That guy who yelled at my friend is not an anomaly. He is not a monster. He himself might even be a good husband and father who was just having a bad day. Maybe his mother just succumbed to COVID and he needed to let go of his rage at the injustice.
            My point is this: we are better than who we have become as a nation. We are not lawless. We are not  hateful.
            I still think that we believe in the rule of law. That we understand that without our democratic institutions we will never be able to enjoy all of the abundance that is available to us in America. Today is the day to change things. Today is the day to honor our neighbors by standing up for kindness and the rule of law so that we truly can make America great again.

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