Guest column

I know I should be feeling grateful — but why not today?


As usual, this morning I grabbed my “Start each day with a grateful heart” mug to have my tea. Our dog is at my feet, the cat is in the window, and I’m looking at blue skies with wisps of clouds slowly moving by. I’ve got a full stomach, a roof over my head, and a paycheck on the way soon.

I should be grateful, right? It’s November, the month of gratitude. Even this year, I have so many things for which to be thankful. I’m able to work from the safety of my own loving home. I just found out that my COVID-19 test was negative. All the candidates I worked and voted for won their races.

So, why am I feeling sad, and even a bit mad, right now? Maybe it’s because as grateful as I am for some of my family living with me during this pandemic, it’s close quarters. No matter where I go, there they are. As gracious as we are with each other, there they are. Still. As thankful as I am for their ability to work and help with the household, I had to get a COVID test recently because one of them was exposed at work. Guess I’m mad I had to get a test at all. I’m fearful I may not get to be with the rest of our family on Thanksgiving because of continued risk.

OK, then why am I so sad about the election? All “my guys” won. Yes, I’m grateful. Yet, almost half of our country voted for a man we’ve literally heard on-air brag about grabbing women’s private parts, lying about the dangers of the coronavirus and calling veterans “suckers” and “losers.” And in Colorado, close to 7,000 people voted for Kanye West! What?

I don’t know people’s reasons for voting that way. But the results do show how divided we are as a nation.

On the other side, there are millions of people who didn’t vote FOR the other major-party candidate because he was their first choice. Many just voted against the current guy.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying any of this to rile up conflict between neighbors. I don’t want that. I was recently called a “moron” and a “pedophile supporter” on Nextdoor by a neighbor (who clearly doesn’t know my child-protection background). But that’s not why I’m sharing here so openly. I just needed to admit that in spite of “gratitude month” and all the beautiful life around me, and that I really SHOULD be grateful ... I’m also sad. To me, it’s sad to be separated from family members because some people won’t do their part. It’s sad to be called names by a neighbor I don’t even know. It’s sad to see people voting against their own morals and to feel how divisive we’ve become. We’ve got much work ahead to deal with our ethics, empathy, and hypocrisy. All of us, including me.

Don’t get me wrong. Often, the majority of any day for me is spent in gratitude. But in this moment next to my grateful heart mug, I’m sad. And that’s OK.

Former Colorado state senator, now with a master’s in Social Justice and Ethics from Iliff School of Theology, Linda Newell is a writer, speaker, facilitator, and conflict consultant.,,, @sennewell on Twitter, Senator Linda Newell or @TheLastBill on Facebook.

Linda Newell


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