OPINION

Election results dragging on? Time to hurry up and wait

As I'm writing this, the result of the US election still hangs in the balance. I'm hoping, dear reader, that by now you know something I don't. If not, many of us will be in a lather of impatience.

Whatever your preference for President, being forced to cool your heels in a no-man's land of waiting, waiting, waiting does no one any favours.

And if the horror show that is the US presidential election drags on into the courts, or erupts into violence, that sense of uncertainty and heightened fear will - to put it mildly - fray everyone's nerves.

Just what we don't need - more reason for anxiety in 2020. More gazing into an unpredictable future, more worry, more tension, more knife-edge emotions.

I can't imagine how much worse it must be for people who actually live in the US, and will be directly affected by the outcome. I would be a basket case.

Some of us cope with waiting better than others.

I don't consider patience one of my strengths, finding - for example - the last months of pregnancy to be among the most excruciating in my life. Not only because of the pain and discomfort, but just the sheer frustration of not being able to take the next step in my life.

Imagine having to just wait for your body to do it's own thing - outrageous!

It's also the main reason I kissed my home town - Sydney - goodbye in early adulthood. Too much sitting in traffic. My blood pressure still goes through the roof every time I visit.

Why can't everyone see I'm in a hurry?

That expectation - that we mostly can control our own lives - is a common one in our wealthy, 21st century world.

We make decisions about our jobs, where we live, who we spend time with, and how to deal with life's ups and downs.

We set things in motion, make phone calls, pay the fee and effect change.

But it's worth noting that 'waiting' and 'not knowing' were pretty much the norm for most people throughout human history.

In fact even today, in much of the world, people have little to no say in what their lives look like: what job they do, who they live with or even marry, where they make their home.

Not being able to control your life means you have no choice but to cultivate a little patience.

Impatience is a luxury of the rich.

Maybe that's why the very rich - I mean people who have lived their lives with staff to meet their every whim - often conspicuously lack certain virtues.

It must be hard to learn to wait or do without when there's literally no reason they ever have to. (Yeh, I know - cry me a river.)

Not that it absolves them (or indeed us - since most of us are rich compared with some) of the responsibility to cultivate them.

Because our character is something we all have a say in, whether rich or poor.

And in my opinion, character is everything when it comes to how we interact with the world.

Which brings me back to the US election.

Whichever way that particular cookie has crumbled, I'm convinced that the character of a leader makes an enormous difference.

And bad character will always lead to bad outcomes.

If leaders lie, cheat, mistreat people, and seek their own gain before the good of others, it sears into the consciousness of the people they lead that those things are acceptable.

Desirable, even.

And what does the culture of the place (or country) look like as a result? I'll let you draw your own conclusions there.

The leaders of other countries are, of course, completely outside of our control, and one way or another we have to deal with whatever happens.

So now we're back in the realm of our own response, and our own character.

Some of us - whoever is elected - will stamp our feet or shake or fist. But (and I'm really speaking to myself here), perhaps now is a chance to practice a little patience. Because it all happens again in another four years...