Wash that taste out of your mouth

On the night of the “super moon,” a young fellow named Henry, maybe five-ish, was running around on the shore path in Bar Harbor, wondering why he had been dragged down to the water’s edge in the almost-dark. “Where is it?” he cried. “Where is that super moon?”

Suddenly, a brilliant sliver of orange light appeared over the Schoodic Peninsula across the bay. Henry froze. “What is that?” he gasped. “That’s it,” came the response. “That’s the super moon.” Henry was transfixed.

A moon as orange as a pumpkin climbed steadily into the sky. Henry approved. When it cleared the horizon, he cried out “I wish everybody in the world could come and see this.”

And so it was that a child’s wonder brought a sense of perspective back to those of us gathered by the shore. The moon laid a golden path across the water, reminding us that there is a path forward for our fractured nation. We have only to lift a light to see it.

If you are so overwhelmed by the election that you are having a hard time feeling thankful this Thanksgiving, get out your door and open your eyes. Maine is out there, right where we left it, and it is as beautiful as ever. It is an antidote to two years of strident rhetoric, unwanted phone calls and a 24-hour news cycle of talk, talk, talk.

Regardless of which candidate you supported, you are likely to feel bruised and battered. It’s a good time to “think local” for a while. The tourists are gone, the nights are long, and the cold is coming. How can we use this quiet season to recover?

Talking with friends and neighbors, many have a desire to strengthen community ties. Pulling the plug on Facebook would be a good way to start. Facebook has become a hotbed of rancor and false information, an avenue for broadcasting hate and anger from the privacy of one’s keyboard.

Could we use this winter as a time to come face to face? To get out into our communities and mix it up with a cross-section of those we live among? Can we find a way to talk, and more importantly to listen, to those with whom we disagree? Think about how this election was conducted, and about whether this is how we want our kids to go about decision-making as they grow up and take the reins of the institutions that determine our success as a state and as a country.

Whether your candidate won or lost, most of us have an icky taste in our mouths. Here is what some residents of Hancock County say about how to put it behind us.

Go to church, or to the Y, or to the library. Talk to people there. Ask them how they feel about the election results, and why. Then listen. Don’t be in a hurry to tell them your own opinion. Don’t holler at them or disparage their point of view. Look for thoughts with which you can agree – or at least sympathize.

Have a potluck. Invite a mix of people you know and people with whom you’ve never broken bread. Go to every bean supper you can get to. Have coffee with your neighbor. Talk to the guy on the stool next to you at the bar. Have lunch with someone from a different generation.

Turn off the TV and radio, and put on some music. Look for activities that quiet your mind and promote concentration; avoid those that create distraction. Make something. Take a class. Knit, build, paint, carve. Find a kid to do it with you.

Volunteer at a food pantry or a homeless shelter or a school. Get outside in the fresh air and walk until your feet cry uncle. Look around while you walk. Think like a kid and wonder about what you see.

As for the president-elect, a “wait and see” approach is advisable. He has been reasonably circumspect in the early days of the transition, aided by an outgoing president who has shown remarkable dignity and a stalwart resolution to be helpful.

To obsess about Donald Trump as a person rather than debate policy proposals as they emerge is to continue to put the focus on the show, not the substance. Allowing the campaign to unfold with almost no discussion of major policy issues was the biggest failing of the election. Let’s not repeat it during the Trump presidency.

As he names his Cabinet, there will be plenty of room to raise policy differences, but some of the most controversial possibilities are already off the table. You knew he wasn’t going to appoint Nancy Pelosi, right? Those he has appointed so far have government experience and solid educational resumes. That’s good.

If you didn’t like the outcome of the election, you are not going to like much of what happens in the next four years. Those of you who are party members might be frank with party leaders about your opinion of the election. After all, they present us with the candidates. How did that work out?

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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