Today and tomorrow all candidates will be making their final plea for your support. I know we are all passionate about the issues. I also know that we want to see positive change for us, our families, our communities, and our nation. I also know that the past few months have been alarmingly negative as the rhetoric across channels has been heavily based in division and difference.
I am and will always be a big advocate for spending time outdoors and connecting with the natural world. Over the last several months, spending time outdoors has been a positive space to unplug from the political noise (and there has been a lot). I have made a daily choice to focus on the present magic and goodness all around me this fall.
Election week is here. I don’t want to talk about the candidates or specific issue. I think what is most important to ask ourselves is what happens after the election? I am concerned about how we move forward.
I have been thinking a lot about our individual responsibility to be respectful and work together to build strong communities regardless of the election results. While reading a new book by Peter Wohlleben’s called “The Hidden Life of Trees” (published September 2016), I couldn’t help but think about the election and how much we can learn from trees about the way we might think about moving forward.
In the opening chapter of Wohllenben’s book he shares this about the role of trees to thrive in forests:
“But why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But, together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.”
— Peter Wohlleben author of “The Hidden Life of Tree
At this point, you might be thinking where am I going with this and what in the world does this have to do with politics. Well, I think it has everything to do with politics!
Let’s start with trees. A tree is not a forest. A thriving forest is created and maintained when each tree takes care of itself, and their tree family, and the forest community. A forest will always have trees on either extreme of the climate, but overall the forest comes together to moderate and protect the wellness of the environment for every tree.
Now let’s use the same idea to think about each of us as individuals within our communities. A person is not a community. A thriving community is created and maintained when each person takes care of themselves, their families, and the people of their community. A community will always have people on either political extreme, but overall the people of the community come together in search of middle ground that protects the wellness of the community for every person.
Regardless of what happens this week, let’s remember that we all play a part in taking care of each other and building our communities. Trees have been doing it for a long time. Together.