While We Wait

Photo by: Pamela Ebstyne King

As I held my breath and dropped my ballot into the LAVoter Box on the eve of Election Day, time seemed to stand still under the glowing lights of Pasadena City Hall. In that moment, I was acutely aware of the present light and darkness. Perhaps I was projecting my own internal landscape of both hope and fear; but in many ways as we await results, it feels like American citizens are sharing a collective breath. In what has become a sort of liminal space on Election week—as so much nationally, globally, and personally feels out of my control and in flux—I have felt suspended between possibility and potential demise. However, I have come to realize that these are false dichotomies.

“What are the virtues that we need all American citizens to embody for a thriving democracy? “

Although the feeling of being suspended or potentially plummeting over a precipice in slow motion might be how I feel, I need to challenge myself not to consider the electoral result as binary—as either promise or peril, good or bad. Although extraordinarily important on the national and global level, the United States government is part of a larger story. Our larger sacred stories about ultimacy, about what matters most, about what defines human flourishing are what give us hope and can serve to orient us in the midst of chaos, anxiety, and ambiguity.

On this threshold of a new presidential term, I am challenged to consider my ultimate hope and to keep electoral results in perspective. In many ways, I see this electoral moratorium as an invitation to reconsider our most deeply held beliefs and convictions that mobilize and direct us towards one another. No matter the outcome, a thriving democracy depends on its citizens’ willingness to become our best selves with and for all others.

In these moments, it is imperative that we view one another as people—not as an opaque color—Blue or Red. Challenge yourself to not reduce people to a vote or to characterize the “other” side, but view others for what they love about and hope for our country. The reality our country is better with diverse perspectives. I am not suggesting we turn Purple. But how can we be a Red and Blue that bring out the best in our differences? One way to begin is to look for common ground between your and others’ convictions. What are the virtues that we need all American citizens to embody for a thriving democracy?  

One of the virtues we can agree on is hope. We can all actively hope for our country. In this threshold moment, while we wait, we can consider our unique role in our story of hope. Regardless of who is President, we can all be actively engaged. As we come out of this electoral threshold to the other side of the elections, let us be a people who do focus not on fighting against the other side, but on working towards an US (United States). We have no room for exclusive hope. If our visions of hope are not hopeful for all, I’m afraid they are not true hope. A flourishing society depends on its visions and means of hope that are inclusive of liberty and justice for all.

About the Author

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King is the executive director of the Thrive Center and serves as the Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her primary academic interests are applied research at the intersection of human thriving and spiritual development. Dr. King's work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable all people to thrive.

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