As we crossed over the bridge, suddenly the air was lighter, as we saw hundreds of people coming to the streets to help their fellow citizens. There were people who simply ran towards us with whatever supplies they could find, to come and help us. There were policemen, fire fighters and people of all race and color, rushing to help those who were crossing over the bridge. They stood there with water, food and anything else they could share. There were people providing directions on how to get out of the place safely and quickly. Strangers offering their phones to make phone calls to families worrying about their loved ones safety and giving helping hand without any hesitation.
In that moment, the scene changed from a nation under attack, to a nation coming together to heal, endure and prevail. A nation rose above our differences with one goal to make America heal and be safe. “United we stand” echoed everywhere. We stood shoulder to shoulder, determined to get the nation back on its feet. Though painful and long, we built back better as a nation. Our presidents delivered on their promise to bring those who were behind this inhumane crime to justice. We were able to create a safer and better America for the next generation. We taught our children born in the post 9/11 world, to respect their nation, we showed them the pain and suffering the nation went through, and most importantly we showed them how we stood together and built it all back, the power of people. We took pride in being one nation, unified, rising above our differences. United we stood!
Fast forward to 2020, America is under attack by another enemy. An enemy like we have never seen before, an enemy without face, killing hundreds and thousands of Americans quietly, sowing and spreading dreadful fear along the way. Ruthlessly killing our elderly and vulnerable, making us fight over toilet paper and whether to wear a mask or not, confining our children behind closed doors, pushing mothers to choose care over career, depriving millions of Americans of jobs, destroying our economy and above all making us fear each other.
I remember the heroic acts of our leaders trying to unite us all, giving us words of hope 19 years ago. I remember our President then delivering a strong and unifying message, promising justice and the Mayor of NY then, becoming overnight the face of America’s strength. I remember when the power of office transferred, the new President irrespective of being from an opposing party delivering on that promise his predecessor made. We had leaders then across all walks of life, placing America and Americans first.
Fast forward now, I wonder what happened to our leaders? From where did this much of hatred and partisan behavior stem from? Where is that underlying decency that we held sacred for years and took pride in? Who deprived America the much needed oxygen of patriotism and hope, and poisoned the well with divisiveness and downright hatred?
4 years ago, I remember a candidate running for presidency. A candidate who did not seem to appear to have grasped the seriousness of the job, or the commitment and leadership it takes to rise above our differences. A shrewd, intelligent and high-energy candidate who knew the political landscape of the American politics and the ways to wake up the base and divisive human behavior that we managed to keep under leash for years. Through a strategy of fear and projection of macho behavior, the candidate, to his very own surprise, successfully rode that wave of divisiveness and ultimately landed at the nation’s highest office.
Confused and offended by the behavior and insensitive nature of this new candidate, people. Even leaders of the candidate’s own party, tried to make sense of all that was going on. He defied rules, feared no one, and with his air of superiority and reckless behavior, stumped everyone and at the same time awed many. He was able to pull stunts that many would not even dare to speak of, making him unique, unpredictable and earned the adulation of many. Who would not like to be on the side of the guy, who fears no one, who can bully his way through anything and make you feel like you are above everyone and everything. Some of us were caught up in his magic and romance and fell into a trance. It is all fun and game until someone gets hurt. What we all needed was a wake up call, a key word that broke the hypnotism or a kick that woke us up from the dream.
Corona kicked us all and kicked us with a might that woke us from the many layers of dream we managed to dig ourselves into, over the past 4 years. Millions of Americans realized, unless we rise up in unity and rise up in record number, we couldn’t break this spell. Our children will continue to be bullied, millions will continue to get sick, people of color will continue to suffer, science and common sense will be given time out and pushed to the backseat, allies and friends will start second guessing our commitment to the world as a leader and the fundamental integrity of the office of the highest power will come into question.
Over the last 4 days, we saw concerned Americans finding their voice together to finally say “ No”, realizing another 4 years of divisiveness, we would have dug ourselves into a deeper hole that would be hard to climb out of.
Every voter has the right to choose the candidate they believe in, despite how that candidate is seen by others. At the end of the day, it is not about the candidate at all. The Candidate is the representation of our country’s combined voice. Some of the supporters of the said candidate are my beloved friends and families. Over the 20+ years I have felt pride about leaders across both parties and have voted both ways, because despite our differences, both parties cared for each other and most importantly cared deeply for the wellness of our amazing country. However last 4 years feels like we took politics way too far, may be even to the point of no return and that we needed a slap on the face and a time out to get back to reality and focus on what matters to us most.
I love and respect all those who voted for both candidates. What we saw last 4 days is the most sacred process of democracy in its full bloom. We did so very well and we all spoke in our unified civil voice, through our ballots. I respect our ability to stand behind our respective candidates and make a strong case for what we each believe in.
I urge Americans of both parties to give a chance to the candidate we all voted together through our sacred democratic process. Irrespective of to whom we voted, we have made history all around. We deserve to be applauded for these monumental accomplishments, amid a pandemic. Thousands of government employees and volunteers worked for so many days to make this possible. Let us take pride in what we have accomplished as a nation and pat each other on the back for the job well done.
We all know we have a chance to beat this new faceless enemy, only if we stood together. Let us remember the sense of pride and responsibility that united us together 19 years go. We put our differences on hold and stood together for our country in the past and let us find that sense of pride again. Let us stand united for us, for our children and for our country we all so love.
God bless America!