The people spoke on Nov. 3, and whether or not you approved of either the process or the ensuing results, the United States has its 46th president in Joe Biden and a history-making vice president, Kamala Harris.

We live in divided and extremely challenging times. Historians will say this is nothing new. In fact, some would argue the current, tumultuous state of our union pales in comparison to some eras of our past.

Between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomattox in April 1865, the nation—quite literally—broke apart. More than 3 million men took up arms, and hundreds of thousands of black and white civilians in the Confederacy became refugees. Four million enslaved African Americans were freed from bondage. After four years of a civil war that led to 620,000 military deaths – the equivalent of approximately 6.5 million soldiers in 2020 – the United States had to figure out how to navigate a biracial society without slavery. Regardless what side of the political aisle you stand on, no current (or past) political issue approaches slavery in the mid-19th century in terms of divisiveness.

Two centuries later, we are still striving for equality, liberty and justice for all. As I wrote in December of 2016, but sadly must reiterate, the time for division and all forms of violence MUST end. We need a united country to fix our many problems, not the least of which is a global pandemic that has cost nearly a half million Americans their lives to go with an economic toll approaching $18 trillion. More than ever, we need as many of us working together as possible to move our nation forward. The change we all want really starts with us, and more often than not that process begins with listening to people whose viewpoints you not only disagree with, but may even despise. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s the only way.

I still believe we will get out of the universe what we put into it. Take a moment and reflect on your life and mission. Are you doing everything in your power to bring a positive change in your community, within your family, or for another human being?

Any time violence is chosen to express a certain viewpoint, we all lose. The idea that it is okay because someone else did it—now commonly known as “whataboutism”—is pure nonsense. Two wrongs have never made a right, and needless to say we are better than that. We can debate and peacefully protest, but we should never turn to violence. We must finally unite as one nation and treat everyone equally, where no one feel “lesser” because of the color of their skin, their gender, their nation of origin, their religious beliefs or their economic status. Lose the bias and let go of the hate.

Only then can we generate true change.

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All state residents wanting the vaccine should register via the NJ State Vaccine Scheduling System at covidvaccine.nj.gov.

As of this printing, Mercer County was ramping up its vaccine efforts, but without an adequate supply of doses the rollout will continue to lag. Vaccinating 331 million people obviously takes time. I know it is hard, but please be patient as we all navigate this newest challenge much like we have done everything else since March—together.