There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.
These famous lines uttered in 1939 by Judy Garland in the memorable and marvellous movie, The Wizard of Oz have been repeated by millions all over the world for a variety of reasons, and have provided new meaning for me today.
Home for me is New Zealand. I was born and raised in New Jersey then spent 10 years in New York City before immigrating to Auckland in the early 1990s.
Home is now Whanganui where I feel safe in such a beautiful, creative and interesting place surrounded by neighbours who care about each other and the community. I have also found love here, but that's another column!
Every once in a while, I pine to be in the country of my birth. To be 'home' with my brother and his family near Philadelphia and my sister and her family in upstate New York. And, with friends and relatives dotted around the country, it is easy to feel the warmth and comfort of American hospitality.
Yet, only days ago, my old home looked like a tiny and poor Third World country that had been devastated by a natural disaster with store fronts boarded in ply and walls built around the White House.
This disaster is man made by one person who had the power to do good but made the decision to lie, encourage rage and not believe in the science that could have helped save thousands.
That person is no longer president of the United States and I think I heard a giant sigh of relief around the world when the special votes were counted. I felt exhausted by the regular tirades and childish outbursts with unsubstantiated and self serving, vulgar tweets and failed attempts at grabbing the headlines from the former Commander in Chief.
Today, I feel hopeful. I believe that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will provide considered actions not seen in years to bring a unity to a wounded nation that desperately needs wise heads and calm to guide the people out of its current turmoil.
What can we learn about what happened with the elections in the United States? How and why is America and Americans such a divided country? To answer these questions would take pages and ages to even attempt to explain. But, please let me try.
Trump received more votes in 2020 than he received in 2016. I do not understand this. The research I have read suggest that Trump voters are Latino, many are Caucasian and most live in rural settings. Some voters think they still need to fight for their first amendment right of freedom of speech and second amendment right to bear arms.
Conspiracy theories are promoted and statements made based on no evidence may make for Trump media sound bites or tweets but do not make for a united country.
Some believe that the education system may be to blame with the rise of many believing in unproven conspiracy theories while media outlets promote a certain bias towards one party over the other. Former Trump staff member Steve Bannon suggests Dr Fauci be beheaded. And the current Chief of Staff did not want anyone to know that he has coronavirus.
This division is not the home I know or grew up in. I am still not certain as to how the United States got there in the first place either. But, I do believe that the healing has begun. Whatever you believe and whoever you voted for, I hope and pray that a conversation can and will now occur.
Wherever you call home, let's celebrate our freedoms, friends, family and the fact that we can still have a conversation about a variety of topics.