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Guess what? On Nov. 4 we still have to be neighbors

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

By J. Hogan

-Gains & Gleanings-

When this issue of the gazette hits newsstands, the presidential election will be four days out. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Americans will decide who will sit in the Oval Office for the next four years.

On Wednesday, life goes on. Or at least it should.

Whether Joe Biden is president-elect or Donald Trump is reelected, parents will still have to buy kids shoes, the boss will still expect me to type up my column, and the pizza drivers will still be zipping their local pies to hungry families from all of the great shops around town. Family will still be family and neighbors will still live up and down the street.

If we’re sane, we’ll keep that in mind. We’ll still have stores from which we can purchase shoes and pizza shops to send out their pedestrian delicacies, and we’ll still help Bob up the block jump his car on a chilly morning, maybe even run him up to the parts store to get that overdue new battery.

If we’re not sane, the shoe store might be smoldering ashes, along with the pizza driver’s car… and we might never speak to Bob again, let alone help him in his moment of need.

Bob’s yard sign said he supported the other ticket, you see?

Does that sound outrageous? It should.

It shouldn’t sound impossible, or even implausible in some places.

In a year of pandemic, government lockouts of small businesses, protests, riots and political bickering, we — if we act like imbeciles — are sitting on a tinderbox ready to explode.

I wish I believed it won’t ignite somewhere across the nation, but I can’t confess that belief.

I’ve seen families allow true damage — brothers refusing to speak to one another, entire families breaking tradition by refusing to attend a nephew’s high school graduation, mother and daughter publicly lambasting one another on social media — all over which candidate one or the other supports going into this election.

Given that, I anticipate some ugly behavior in response to the outcome, somewhere.

However, I hope and pray it’s not here. Partly because it’s dangerous… and could escalate to be very ugly, but mostly because it’s stupid and embarrassing.

We’re all cut from different cloth, not one of us exactly like another, and we don’t align in our thinking about many things including ideology and political preference. This has always been true and it always will be.

What has also been true is that we have been able to accept that and live with one another anyway. Most of us, anyway.

Accepting a political loss doesn’t mean fully embracing the winner’s differing philosophy, it simply means moving on with life, allowing the winner to govern or represent for their term, and gearing up to try to win when the next election cycle comes along.

In our neighborhoods it means putting aside the divisive rhetoric and points of contention in order that we can enjoy the little league game, the block party, the church festival and the day-to-day interactions that make a community a community.

It may take a bit more focused effort to do so this year, with so many folks dealing with heightened anxieties, passions and hardship.

If so, then we should put in the effort. Community and family have far more value than politics in our day-to-day life.

Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.



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