I’m pretty sure I woke up this morning with one thought in mind: “Let the healing begin.” I am also fairly confident that my first words today were “Whew, It’s over!”

You know from that second comment that I wasn’t talking about the virus but the toxic effects remaining from this contentious election year.

My relief is based on the fact that, whichever “side” won, we will not have to be constantly hammered by false claims, accusations and language that some of us prefer not to hear. The presidential campaign hit a new low but was compounded by similar attacks in races for the House and Senate. Candidates and voters alike were insulted and abused.

I do think who won matters. I also think that, whoever that is, there is work to be done in our county, our state, our nation and our world. We are going to have to come together somehow and work for the good of all people and not just that of some title winner.

To do that, each of us must commit to do better in the treatment of our environment, our economy and one another. We will have to adhere to the old ideals of “loving neighbors as ourselves” and of “allegiance to the United States of America.”

High ideals, yes, and it’s time to return to them. Let’s recall the words and meaning of the American’s Creed. Written in 1917 by William Tyler Page, it is based on the words of Thomas Jefferson and won a national prize as the “best summary of American faith.” It still stands today.

“I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

“I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; and to defend it against all enemies.”

We can do that. We can be like the members of the current Osawatomie PRIDE committee and adhere to their slogan — “Be the Change!” That’s what it’s going to take to move past the destructive and divisive issues of these recent years.

We have to be willing to admit that there will be other pathogens after Covid and that we have to keep our environment as healthy as possible so it can help protect us. We can no longer choose to be irresponsible and self-centered in the face of challenges.

I am worried but hopeful. In my lifetime, I have witnessed our countrymen and women overcome great difficulties. I have seen them work to improve our country and our world. We can do that again. We can figure out what’s needed now to build and not destroy. We can demand leadership that will guide positive change.

We are Americans and not just members of political divisions. We need to vow today to surpass the barriers to cooperation and work together for our country and our future.

It’s really not over, is it?

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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