NOBODY KNOWS who has won the presidential race just yet and that means there will be anxious days ahead for all Americans.

During the wait, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the caustic rhetoric that passes for political discourse in the United States could be put on hold. Americans could certainly use a break from all things ugly, divisive and negative.

Don’t misunderstand. A moratorium on political shouting would not keep anyone from watching the progress toward an Electoral College victory. Quiet voices would not somehow mean that anyone’s principles were any less heartfelt.

Our nation could just use a breather.

Everyone knew months ago that 2020 was going to be remembered for many types of pain, death and strife. The novel coronavirus has infected nearly 9.5 millions Americans, leading to more than 233,000 deaths since February.

In an attempt to halt the pandemic, a shutdown of many business sectors led to record unemployment. Yet the lockdown was not enough to halt the virus. Social isolation darkened moods. Nine months later, the COVID-19 crisis continues.

In addition, the nation witnessed a string of senseless deaths during police arrests that led to widespread protests, which in turn led to other deaths and wanton destruction. A record number of forest fires have devastated large swaths of forests and many thousand homes in the Western states. Hurricanes have ravaged coastal areas.

The suffering just keeps piling higher.

If there’s a silver lining in all this gloom, it’s how Americans come together in the darkest of times.

Health care providers in many parts of the country have worked grueling hours under continual stress for the past nine months. Countless others have done their part. Ambulance crews, police and other first responders have risked their own health to do vital work. Businesses are taking precautions to protect customers. Many employers are adapting to allow stay-at-home work. Lots of business owners have done their best to make sure laid off employees get financial help.

Firefighters have worked non-stop to control blazes that have claimed the lives of their peers. Storm recovery crews have volunteered their services in hard-hit areas.

Heroes who would never claim that title for themselves have shown the world the many portraits of selfless service.

We’re all Americans. We’re all in when the chips are down.

Can’t we say the same thing when the voting ends?

Nothing said in a coffee shop, or on social media will change the outcome of the election. So why shout down the other guy? Nobody benefits. We all lose.

The earlier question remains: Can’t we call a time out on all that divides us and focus on those nobler inclinations that bring us together?

So much of what the nation has experienced in 2020 has been beyond our control. We cannot wish away the coronavirus by force of will. There is no way to reset the lives lost to the virus, racism or violent protests.

We only have control over how we behave, what words we choose, whether we build up or tear down.

We’re all Americans. Let’s act like it.

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