margaretIt is all over now, thank goodness.

We have survived an ugly and painful presidential campaign and are living witnesses to one of the most historic elections in our nation’s history. The United States of America has a new President-elect, and while not everyone is happy, our nation has no option but to move forward. Those of us who are not happy must make every effort not to say “we were robbed,” and those of us who are happy must never let the words “I told you so” cross our lips. 

Our country is divided in ways it has not been during my lifetime, and if we are to go forward as a democratic republic, we must concentrate on what we have in common more than what separates us. This is going to take sincere and deep effort from both the winners and the losers. 

Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, sent an open letter to members of the UVA community. She said, in part, “As we move into the future following this year’s election, let our values be our guideposts. We define ourselves by a shared commitment to reasoned discourse, mutual respect and steadfast support for every member of our community regardless of race, religion or any other human difference. Political elections will come and go. The values that we share will remain a timeless source of affirmation and hope.”

The alternative is unthinkable.

********************

Having lost an election myself, I empathize with the candidates of all stripes who came up short. In my case, being portrayed as a hooker was the so far off my radar screen, I hardly knew what to say, except that if I had ever wanted to go into that line of work, I should have done it decades earlier. There is no market for a hooker in her 50s. People who have run for political office develop thick skins, and my reaction to the hooker ad was, “Whoa! That is a really good bad ad.” 

That, however, was not the reaction of my husband, children and friends who were hurt and insulted on my behalf. 

Campaign advertising disappeared in an instant last week, not expected to reappear with such magnitude until the 2020 presidential cycle, although there will be some lesser eruptions between now and then. When campaigns ads burst onto your TV screens again, remember that while most of them contain a grain of truth, they are all slanted to one point of view or another. None, and I repeat none, of them is entirely true. Remember as well that for every candidate who is savaged, there are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters and friends whose hides are tender and whose feelings are hurt for the candidates they love. 

Is it any wonder that both Democrats and Republicans struggle to recruit strong, attractive and qualified candidates when what is being asked of those people is to put themselves and their families through the public meat grinder? Why would an able, respectable and upwardly mobile person put himself or herself through a vicious political campaign when a more cordial and likely more lucrative option is available?

Is this why we talk about the lowest common denominator?

********************

Who wudda thought it?

Now that Americans can go back to our regular lives watching TV commercials for products not candidates, we can also feel better about our use of social media, including Facebook. Since social media came into our lives a decade or so ago, doomsayers have shrieked loudly about its negative effects on our physical health, mental health, relationships, self esteem, time management, even our financial wellbeing. 

Some of that is surely true for some of us, especially those who cannot seem to tear ourselves away from gizmo screens, but there is some positive news as well, including a longer life. A study published recently in PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the favorable health effects of a virtual social life are much the same as those of a face-to-face social life. 

The study dealt with information from 12 million social media profiles made available by Facebook, so there was plenty of data. Study authors write, “We find that people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts. This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have a negative impact on health.” Scientists have long known that strong personal relationships encourage longevity, and it seems that may be true in the virtual world as well.

I          that!

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