A House Divided

A House Divided
November 9th, 2016


Living in a small town, some might say “a village”, I gathered with friends and family on election eve to await the results of the most contentious and divisive election I’ve ever known. Amidst the “dark and stormy” drinks, the pizza and cookies, our conversations vacillated between the results coming in on the big screen, and the exchange of personal updates on our lives and those of our children. One particular conversation riveted me, and I hope it can inform how we now move forward as a nation.

As I spoke to an old friend about our now adult daughters, our conversation turned to my friend’s experience of divorce, and how she saw it as an opportunity to heal and grow. She and her former husband have done a remarkable job as co-parents.  They’ve been able to put their children before themselves, and themselves in the proverbial shoes of their children. She described to me the first time one of their children objected to moving from their father’s house to her house on their pre-arranged schedule. Instead of insisting on the move, these parents agreed to let the children create a schedule that worked best for them. She told me that it had evolved to a roughly two-week rotating schedule as the children reported otherwise feeling as though as soon as they settled into one home, it was time to move again. By remaining in one home for two weeks at a time they felt established enough to enjoy the alternating time with each of their parents. And when sometimes they were too tired to move on the intended day, they simply extended the stay until the next day. No one argued about “whose day it was”, or if it was “fair”. No one counted the number of days, or hours or overnights. Instead they simply enjoyed and maximized the time they spent with their children.  And their children are thriving. All of them seem happy, well adjusted and successful in the choices they have made about school and work.   This family is a testament to healthy restructuring; as she said, they are still a family they just have a different construct. They effectively distilled and extracted all that they agreed upon, and made a commitment not to focus on their disagreements. They have showed us how people can move forward as a family, and as a Nation.

I woke up to a post election television interview with Carl Bernstein who said, “this (the result) is tragic and dangerous”.  And indeed a Nation divided is frightening. We are now tasked with finding our agreements and attending to them first. Only then will we stand a chance of reconciling our disagreements.   

A house divided against itself cannot stand.
June 16, 1858
Abraham Lincoln
Address to his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives

Heidi Webb author photo



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