America Needs a Time Out

America, it’s time for a national time out.

Some mornings, my kids and I are cranky. We snap at each other. We judge. We jump to conclusions and we fight. The kids throw things. I yell. One child cries and the other child points fingers.

On those mornings, we have learned to restart the day. We all go into our separate rooms. We take a few minutes to breathe, or cry, or otherwise regroup. And then one by one, when we’re ready, we come out with a smile on our faces and new energy. “Good morning!” we exclaim.

The day almost always improves from that point forward.

I’m happy to admit this because it’s a recognition that we are a family, that we are in this together, and that we all make mistakes. And while it may seem fake on the surface, those smiles lead to more talking than screaming, more hugs than pushing. It’s an embrace of C. S. Lewis’s idea about how to be a good Christian: Sometimes, you’ve got to act as if you are a good Christian, even when you don’t really feel you are. As he wrote, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

This morning, I propose that Americans everywhere to take a time out, go to their rooms and handle their emotions. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to yell. It’s OK to feel relief, too, or a mixture of complex emotions. But let’s all do it privately for a bit. And then come out when we are ready to act together as a country to advocate for inclusion, to love our neighbors and to champion equality.

I believe in our democracy. And part of that belief is that we can move forward past fear, hate and anger toward common ground, justice and hope. America is already great. And we are stronger together.

For now, let’s take a brief time out. Put down our phones. Pray. Reflect. Breathe. And think about how we can work together to say good morning to each other again. Because, quite frankly, it’s our only hope as a family.

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