ragged-flagWow. It’s over. Are you feeling a little ragged, this morning?

We are now living in the wake of one of the most divisive, dysfunctional presidential-election cycles most of us can remember. Psychologists even talked about “election stress disorder,” while the madness continued, and worried about the very real havoc it wreaked on people’s peace of mind.

However you feel about the results, the nastiness didn’t just stay at the top of the ticket. Down-ballot races often seemed at least as mean-spirited and angry. What is worse, partisan divisions have begun to inspire a lot of mistrust, rancor, and in some cases downright hatred between everyday people all around us. People we may once have seen as “my neighbor,” or “my cousin” many of us now see as “us” and “them.”

But the election’s over. The votes are cast, for well or ill. The seemingly wall-to-wall political ads have finally ended, thank God. Now comes the hard part: living with what we have wrought.

I’m not talking about the politicians, or who’ll be in the White House come January. I’m talking about my fellow Americans. How do we suck it up and start speaking to each other again? 

Our nation’s fate and future depend on our being able to do that. We’re going to have to act like rational adults, and stop casting aspersions on each others’ intelligence and morality. Can we ever be positive thinkers again? Should we even try?

The short-term advice is not to talk about the election results too much, or think too hard on what you learned about the other person’s politics in recent months. But straight-up denial isn’t a winning plan, either. Sooner or later, facts must be dealt with.

But when the facts are inconvenient or unfavorable from your point of view, what do you have left?

Can we muster the hope?

Can we afford not to try?

IMAGES: Many thanks to the “4th of July” Pinterest Page for the “ragged flag” photo–but relax. It’s not really a shredded flag. It’s a decoration made from strips of cloth and lace. Many thanks to the Pinterest board, “Workplace Quotes,” for the Negative/Positive quote, and to “The Teenager Quotes” on Tumblr via the “Positive Quotes” Pinterest board for the quote about dealing with an addiction to negativity. Many thanks also to the “Work Hard” Pinterest Page for the “no matter the situation” quote. Last but not least, many thanks to the “Positive Thinking” Pinterest Page for the “Hope is stronger” quote.