By Mike Vandenberg
Mike Vandenberg is assistant director of admissions at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and a source in MPR News' Public Insight Network.
As the sun lit up the prairie this morning, I was struck by how peaceful the mood was. I think the feeling struck me so profoundly because of how divided our country was during this election, and continues to be on this post-election morning.
This voter who filled in the No bubble twice, voted for President Obama and woke up proud of what the state of Minnesota had decided overnight, couldn't help but think about all those who voted differently. People who felt the same optimism about their views that I did about my own just one short day ago, people who woke up today feeling that our country had made another mistake, and people who felt that their voice didn't matter and was not heard.
It is true, our state and country remain deeply divided on some very big, very important issues, but this morning I could only think of one thing.
We all woke up under that same sunrise. We all breathe the same air, we all hold our ideals and passions close to our heart. And when our country remains so divided that we cannot even start to find common ground, we all lose together.
My short life has been full of more hardship and personal soul-searching than I would ever wish on anybody. I would not be as strong as I am today if it weren't for everybody in my life who helped me get here.
That includes you, my coworker who voted for Mitt Romney and sent me such a thoughtful message after my mother passed away. That includes you, my friend who voted yes twice and held me close as I moved back to Morris during a huge life challenge at age 28. That includes you, the current Morris student who stands by her conservative ideals, who has been there to pick me up more times than she will ever know. That includes you, my family member who dreads seeing another political post from me, who reached out with a message of hope just when I needed it.
I am the overly idealistic, hopeful, yet humble Minnesotan I am today because of every one of you. We are all in this journey together.
My eyes are full of tears.
We all work too damn hard to have our relationships and love for each other torn apart by the political division that dominates our lives at times like this. Yes, it is important to fight for what you believe in, but it is also important that you fight even harder to find common ground with those who fight for different beliefs.
The young people of this country, the future leaders of our schools, our companies and our families, are all watching us and learning how to conduct themselves on election days to come. Please join me in setting a strong example for all the people in our respective lives. An example that will help us see a day when we all can wake up smiling about that prairie sunrise, and all that is good in our lives.