The African-American desk clerk checks me out of my room, so I hand my bag to the hotel’s Arab shuttle driver. The 20-something with piercings and tats looks most tired of all. I navigate security beside a white man in his trucker’s hat and a Latino family trying to collapse a stroller. I buy water from a hijab-clad Indonesian woman. Behind me on the jet way, an urbane forty- something ponders Mexican real estate aloud, while a middle-aged Wall Street Journal reader looks on amused. My Row 25 runs the gamut – a retired woman looking scared, a young professional man reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” A union man’s jacket celebrates “5,000 Days FRA Injury Free.” The woman two rows back has young daughters.
On Facebook it’s dark despair from some friends, the frisson of underdog victory from others. I reread my thirteen-year-old son’s past-midnight text: “Dad I’m literally about to cry.”
Who is mourning? Who is savoring? Who is hopeful? Who is angry? Who is scared? Will a flight break out? How will do together? These questions haunt November 9, 2016. This morning, Donald J. Trump is my president. Yours too. We’ve endured the most vicious and divisive campaign season of our lifetimes. We’ve heard about Mexican rapists and American deplorables. There’s been sexual abuse and e-mail abuse. Many raise apocalyptic alarms of destruction “if the other side wins.” On November 9, we have a President half of us like at least enough to elect, and the other half deplore and even fear.
The whole plane feels tired. Some nod off, others distract ourselves with People or a podcast. A few work. Most aren’t talking to one another. We boarded one by one, so we hesitate before opening a conversation that we may not want to finish with a person we newly don’t like. Flight attendants query us about beverage choices, and fathers entertain their toddlers. I notice that our clothes mostly aren’t red or blue. Hard to tell who’s who.
The flight lands. A chime sounds, seat belts click open, strong hands pull rollers from overhead bins. 160 Americans have just flown successfully from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City. We haven’t crashed. We haven’t fought. No one even noticed the pilots. When Abraham Lincoln claimed with Jesus that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” he mused, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it…”
Now I muse. We’re in an airplane, headed for tomorrow. I wonder how we the (300 million) people will fare today. What shall we do? How shall we do it?
I pray to a God who likes safe flights. I ask how I can help.