Is there an answer here that will help mend the heart of our nation?

Here is a the opinion of an American warrior and friend, Retired, USAF Lt. Col. Melinda Grafton

Healing America

“How can you think this way? Can’t you see that this candidate is going to kill our democracy? If you support him/her there is no way we can continue as friends. It is obvious you have no values! I can’t believe we were ever close!! You are filled with hate and anger!” The phone clicks and my heart sinks.

One of my dearest friends just cut me out of their life over politics. Before the last election, we had never discussed politics. We shared laughs and tears over the joys and bumps in life. We worked side-by-side sharing our families and professions. Our religions were different, but we both deeply were committed to service before self. We would talk for hours, and even when we saw something with different views we didn’t argue, we talked. Sometimes, we would agree to disagree. Oft times we would be enlightened to new ways at looking at an issue. But never did we get angry at each other because of a view.

Now we are no longer friends, because of how we voted and plan to vote in the 2020 election. My heart is broken. Our nation’s heart is breaking.

What is going to happen to our beautiful democracy if we don’t find a way to have conversations that lead to collaboration? It isn’t us versus them. We are all Americans.

The words don’t flow here easily because this is not about immigration, even though almost all of us are here as immigrants. This is not about a masks, COVID, policing, race relations, abortion, guns, healthcare, taxes, or religion. These are all vital issues in our country that we need to solve. But getting trapped in any one of these, on one side or the other, is tearing our country apart.

Somehow our emotional response to these, and other issues, have become so inflamed we can’t see the person on the other side as a person. We get mad at each other. We cut each other out of our lives. We say hateful things, or have hateful things said to us. The swirl of our response spirals and the next thing you know a friend is lost, a family member excommunicated, a divide created, and we are only left with the belief that we are right.

Yet in being right, we are wrong.

We now have a torn heart, and we are tearing the hearts of our friends, families, acquaintances, and nation.

In the fall of 2016, I was about to retire from a 26-years of service in the Air Force (Reserve and Active Duty). As I walked down the corridor where the Joint Chiefs of Staff worked, a beautiful wood paneled hallway lined with pictures of past Joint Chiefs of Staff, a very senior Army General stopped to talk with me, as he was retiring too. As we spoke about what was next in our lives, he shared me with his belief how it was important as retiring military officers we continued to adhere to our oath of commission. To defend our Constitution and to support our nation’s leaders. He told me he believed as retired officers, unless we were running for office, we needed to continue to keep our political opinions out of the mainstream. To vote our conscious. To support our country.

I had the great pleasure of working with this gentle giant of a leader, and observe him as he listened to heated opinions about missions, logistics and personnel challenges. You could tell he listened to learn, versus to be heard. He was always looking for how people could work together towards solutions, versus muddying the waters with strong opinions and beliefs.

Listening to learn is where conflict can become collaboration. And collaboration is where the two sides of a conflict can find a win-win solution. Not a compromise, where both lose something. Not a competition, where one wins and one loses.

Collaboration + Collaboration = Win/Win

Today, as I look at this heart broken, the mending is in our hands. The needle we hold is listening, and collaboration how we can sew the threads to heal the heart of our country, friends, families and acquaintances.

Next time an opinion is shared about a belief. Pause.

What type of listening ears do you have on?  Breath.

Look at the person, can you find ways to solve (collaborate), versus win?  Is it best to agree to disagree?  Choose the path. Proceed.

Collaborate and be renewed. Hearts healed.

Please vote and after your vote is in, begin the path to renew your friendships, families, and even the casual acquaintance.

Together we can find ways to collaborate so our country heals and we all win.

Melinda Grafton

Retired, USAF

CEO, 3D Renew


Graphics provided by Karen Wright

CEO, Pause Breath and Proceed