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‘We know more because we have lived longer, but that doesn’t mean we should question what they are doing as parents when it comes to discipline, feeding or putting the baby down for a nap.’

Tim and Darcy Kimmel

‘Grandparenthood: More than Rocking Chairs’ co-authors

By the time this column appears, the 2018 midterm election will be over and, make no mistake, the country will still need compassionate, courageous citizens.

We still need to show up, take care of ourselves and our community, and work together for a better future.

The day after I failed to win a seat on Athens City Council — back in 2016 – I made a list on a bright blue Post-It of five practices or ways of being in relationship that I’d tried to cultivate during my campaign. These were the practices I wanted to hold on to.

I share them here because they still resonate with me, and maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too.

• Drink more water. There is no silver bullet solution to any problem in this world, but water (and prayer, I believe) may be a closest substitute.

Most of us go through our day partially dehydrated, which means we’re operating at less than optimal levels and it affects everything from our circulation to our digestion to our ability to make healthy, good, compassionate decisions.

• Lead with the question, “What would love have me do in this moment?” Hendree Harrison, former rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, first posed that question to our congregation many years ago and it felt like deep truth.

I feel it in my fingertips and toes and in my posture whenever I enter a room.

“Would love have me be the fire in this moment or put it out? What would love have me say to this person? What door could love open for me if I listen to this person with whom I disagree?” Try it on, see if it helps you.

• Limit social media intake. This is a hard one, for sure. For those of us with social media apps on our phones, checking them is like a subconscious tick (at best) or an addiction (at worst). Research shows that social media intensifies disagreement within communities as well as feelings of loneliness and isolation within individuals.

We live in a technological age, the benefits of which are many, particularly for small towns and rural places seeking parity with their urban counterparts.

It is also an age of disconnection and disunion with our neighbors and we hold the key to repairing the breach by emptying our hands, literally.

• Go to The Source. Some call it Divine, some call it the human spirit. Some call it music, art, prayer or inner peace.

The Source has many names, but it points to union with self and the world and it presents as joy, always.

Go there, every day.

• Participation — not control – is the highest form of compassion. The word compassion means “to suffer with.”

We can’t control the forces that drive suffering in the world. We can’t control our neighbor’s opinions or their vote.

We can only participate, walk with, suffer with and/or be in relationship with one another.

Take what is useful here and leave the rest. The world keeps spinning and our participation in the world matters just as much as it did before Tuesday. Keep showing up!

Whitney Kimball Coe is an Athens resident who serves as coordinator of the National Rural Assembly and director of national programs for the Center for Rural Strategies. She can be reached at whitneykcoe@gmail.com

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