Because I don’t know what babies dream about, but I do know it’s not the state of our nation.
She will not lose sleep over the big decisions and important matters we are faced with as members of our free country.
She is too small.
She is too innocent.
And so it’s my job to worry for her. To make these decisions for her.
To speak for her future as I head to the polls.
By the time you read this, we will have elected the next president of the United States.
By the time you read this, that civic duty will be done.
But tonight, as I write this, the big decision is hanging in the air, looming in sound bites and accusations, scary threats and big promises and words assembled just right and I know for certain I will not sleep the way my baby sleeps tonight.
In the years I’ve spent writing this column, I have not mentioned many words about my politics. I promise you friends, I’m not going to start with it tonight as I sit in my easy chair in the middle of my life full of big plans.
In the middle of my country making big decisions.
No, I haven’t spoken much about politics, but I have spoken about kindness. I have mused at length about community and finding comfort there. I have talked about the importance of sharing our stories and how those stories connect us, turning strangers into friends or, at the very least, into people we have come to better understand.
Because we do not and we cannot and we should not all have shared experiences, opinions or beliefs. We shouldn’t expect it, no matter how it ruffles our feathers or makes us nervous or takes us away from our comfort zones.
It might be one of the most difficult tasks for a human (believe me, I know), but the acceptance, recognition and curiosity about all of our differences can be what make a full and well-rounded life. It’s what fuels our suppertime discussions, keeps us educated and, above all, gives us the chance to cultivate our compassion for people in situations we will never understand unless we try.
I’m writing this tonight as a reminder to myself as much as anyone else.
Because that baby sleeping in her crib down the hall? I don’t know who she will grow up to become. That’s the thing about children—their story is as much written as it is unwritten. They are as strong-willed as they are vulnerable.
And as much as I want to protect her from any harm or ill will or hurt feelings, more than anything I want her to grow up to find herself in a country, in a community (because we are a community aren’t we?) that accepts her and respects her for her accomplishments and potential as well as her differences and struggles.
And tonight I just can’t shake this sense of urgency in doing my best for her and all of those sleeping babies who are going to grow up and into our decisions.
And maybe that’s my politics.
Or maybe that’s my religion.
Or maybe that’s just my hope for our future.