My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

A Surprising Voice From A Conservative

Keith pointed me in the right direction on this one, telling me about Henry Olsen’s latest OpEd in The Washington Post.  I read Olsen’s work only occasionally, for I typically disagree with him on most things, but he really surprised me on this one, and in the best of ways.  What Olsen writes here is proof that there ARE moderate Republicans/conservatives who are not so deeply partisan that they cannot see the forest for the trees.


Biden deserves props for his masterful Ukraine policy

By Henry Olsen

17 November 2022

This week’s report that a Russian-made missile had fallen in Poland, a NATO ally, could have increased tensions with Russia and even led to direct conflict between the belligerent nation and the Western alliance. The fact that it didn’t casts a light on one of the year’s underreported stories: how masterfully the Biden administration has handled the Ukraine crisis.

Some of my fellow conservatives will strenuously disagree with this assessment. In their telling, the United States has no essential national security interest in a free and democratic Ukraine. President Biden’s decision to send massive amounts of military aid to the nation unnecessarily risked war with nuclear-armed Russia. And his decision to join our European allies in imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia is harming our economy, too.

But that ignores the key fact: America’s primary national security interest is to keep our potential enemies far away from our shores, and the least costly and most effective way of doing that is to assemble a network of allies across the globe. We take interest in their security objectives; they, in turn, assist us in obtaining ours.

Biden understood from the start of the conflict in Ukraine that our European allies in NATO viewed Russian designs very differently. Our allies in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, feared they would be next if NATO allowed Ukraine to be conquered. Our allies in Western Europe, such as Germany and France, also feared an aggressive Russia but thought that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be bought off with his country’s extensive economic ties with their countries. Balancing those views was the most important principle animating U.S. policy in the run-up to the invasion.

Thus came Biden’s elegant two-step: First, he warned the world that the invasion was coming and that there would be serious consequences if Russia went through with it. Second, he let Germany and France take the diplomatic lead, giving them the opportunity to prove that their assessments of Putin were correct. Biden also chose not to rush massive amounts of arms to Ukraine, an act that would have given Putin a pretext for the invasion he had already decided to launch. Being too quick to provide weapons also would have harmed Biden’s ability to rally recalcitrant allies in an anti-Russian cordon.

This dance worked perfectly. The Eastern allies knew we shared their fears, and the Western allies were shocked into action after their views about Putin proved dangerously naive. This gave Biden massive credibility to shape the alliance’s actions regarding Russia.

As a result, the economic sanctions the U.S.-led grouping levied were far more severe than almost any observer would have thought possible beforehand. And the military aid the alliance provided has been much more lethal than any that had been contemplated just a year ago. Ukraine now has the upper hand in a war against a foe three times as large. That’s all due to Biden’s superb diplomacy.

This maneuvering has also created collateral behaviors that redound to U.S. security. European powers had been leery of confronting China before Russia’s invasion, weakening the United States’ ability to contain its primary security threat. Now, with Chinese President Xi Jinping tacitly supporting Russia, Europe no longer sees China as a benign power. Even though many European elites resent America for its sometimes overbearing diplomatic manner and military swagger, they also know they share more values with the United States than they ever could with an autocratic Russo-Chinese axis. They are now likelier to back our initiatives to reduce China’s economic and diplomatic influence.

None of this was preordained. A U.S. president whose primary goal was to prevent confrontation with Russia might have been inclined to cut a deal with Putin that effectively gave him what he wanted, pushing Europe further into a strategy of appeasement. A president who intended to confront Russia might have involved the United States too deeply in Ukraine, alienating our allies and setting up the potential for a direct military clash between superpowers. Biden’s middle course avoided these missteps and set the United States up to reap massive benefits.

Biden will have to keep this balanced approach as the war continues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would like to see the United States and NATO involve themselves more directly in his war, which is why he was quick to argue that his country was not responsible for the missile that fell in Poland. But the more territory Ukraine retakes, the closer it gets to the territory Russia seized in 2014. We now know Putin will not risk war with the West over Kherson or Zaporizhzhia. He might feel differently if a U.S.-armed Ukraine threatens to retake Crimea.

But those concerns are in the future. For now, it appears that Biden has reinvigorated NATO and brought the Europeans closer to our views on China. That’s cause for celebration across the partisan divide.

Bye-Bye Little Birdie

He paid $44 billion to buy a toy that he didn’t know how to play with.  Last night I closed my Twitter account, so I have one less ‘pinned tab’ taking up space at the top of my browser screens!  I’ve been considering such a move ever since Elon Musk started threatening to buy Twitter, almost did it when he officially took ownership and fired half the people working there.  But for me, the final straw came yesterday evening when Musk announced that the former guy’s access to Twitter has been restored.

On Friday evening, Musk put out a “poll” asking if people wanted Trump to return to Twitter or not.  I immediately voted with a resounding “No!!!”, but at the end of the 24-hour polling period, those voting to let Trump back on outnumbered those of us who voted against.  And so, I’m finished.  That, for me, proved that since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has turned into a veritable garbage dump, and I refuse to share space with the likes of Donald Trump.  Ah well … one less thing to stir my angst!

But what a waste of $44 billion!  I did a bit of research and calculating, and even with today’s food prices, that $44 billion could have fed nearly 16 million people for a year!  SIXTEEN MILLION!!!  And I can only imagine how many homes for the homeless, how many pair of glasses for children whose parents cannot afford them, how many months’ supply of insulin for diabetics who cannot afford it.  The list is endless … and yet Elon bought himself this social media network and begin breaking it the very first day!

There is a direct inverse correlation between the amount of money a person has and the size of his conscience.  Oh sure, I know there are exceptions like Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and others, but … even they are left with billions more than they could use in a lifetime.  Take Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who has given away $2.1 billion to causes such as the environment, education, and homelessness.  $2.1 billion is a lot of money worthy of kudos, until you consider that he is left with $184.8 billion in his own coffers.  The amount he gave away comes to just over 1% of his net worth … most people of average/moderate incomes typically give a higher percentage of their income than that to worthy causes.  And … Bezos spent more than twice the amount of his ‘philanthropy’, some $5.5 billion, for a ridiculous and pointless trip to space last year.

In short, Elon Musk wasted an obscene amount of money that could have helped millions of people in one way or another, then turned his purchase into a trash heap.  If he completes the destruction of Twitter before the end of the year, he’ll have one heck of a tax write-off next year!

Too little hype, several climate change initiatives passed in last week’s elections

There is no single issue that is more important to the survival of life on earth than the environment and climate change. None. Yet, I think most of us were unaware of the environment-related issues that were on the ballot on November 8th, most of which passed muster with the voters. Our friend Keith summarizes …

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In an article by Frida Garza of The Guardian called “Voters pass historic climate initiatives in ‘silent surprise’ of US midterms,” some very good news occurred while we weren’t paying too much attention.

The full article can be linked to below, but here are a few paragraphs that summarize the story:

“While the economy and abortion rights drove momentum behind the midterm election this year, voters in cities and states across the US also turned out to pass a number of climate ballot initiatives .

Among the measures passed were ahistoric multibillion-dollar investmentinto environmental improvement projects in New York state, including up to $1.5bn in funding for climate change mitigation. This election also saw a $50m green bond act pass in Rhode Island, and in Colorado, the city of Boulder approved a climate tax as well as a ballot measure that will allow the city to borrow against…

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“The High Cost of Underestimating Joe Biden”

President Joe Biden is the subject of criticism from within and without his party. He’s called boring, too old, incompetent. But the reality is that he is working behind the scenes and getting things done. Our friend Annie shares with us today the words of David Rothkopf who fully understands the greatness that is the Biden presidency and the accomplishments he’s made, but received very little credit for. Thank you, Annie! Wonderful piece!

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Constitution

By David Rothkopf

November 13, 2022

In 2020,@JoeBidenwas second guessed by many (me included). He wasn’t exciting. Too old school. Talked about healing. Talked about a clear agenda when the other side had little to offer but hate and good TV ratings. And he won decisively despite the skepticism of the “smart money.”

For two years, he was derided for reaching out to the other side, for his compromises with the left or with the centrists in his own party, for not be exciting enough. He ignored the Beltway buzz. He did the dullest thing imaginable: he governed.

The American Rescue Plan lifted millions out of poverty and helped stimulate a job boom that now has produced 10 million jobs, a record, more than the last three GOP administrations added up. Record number of quality judges were appointed. Executive orders undid Trump’s damage.

He made the bold decision…

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We Cannot Abandon Them!!!

One of my biggest concerns about Republicans holding a majority, albeit a small one, in the House of Representatives next year is the threat that I’ve heard bandied about that they would cut off all future funding to Ukraine.  Some claim we “need to move on from Ukraine”, but how do you just abandon an entire nation of people?  It breaks my heart to think that this nation would simply stop aiding Ukraine, leaving them to almost certain takeover by Russia, and at the cost of how many lives?  And then yesterday I came across this piece by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recently-returned New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof.  This article shows us why we must continue to support Ukraine, why anything else is unthinkable from a humanitarian perspective.  The article is a bit long, so I will share only a portion here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the rest.


I Went to Ukraine, and I Saw a Resolve That We Should Learn From

By Nicholas Kristof

Photographs by Emile Ducke

16 November 2022

IZIUM, Ukraine — Inna Osipova pointed to the 30-foot pile of rubble that is all that’s left of her apartment building. She and her 5-year-old son narrowly escaped when Russian shelling destroyed the structure, but her grandmother did not and is interred somewhere in the wreckage. Osipova hopes her body will be found so she can be given a proper burial.

Her voice cracked with emotion, but she held together until I asked what she thought of Americans who say it’s time to move on from supporting Ukraine.

“We’re people, you understand,” she said, and she began weeping. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.” And then she was crying too hard to continue.

“We’re people, you understand,” said Inna Osipova, in front of the ruins of her apartment building, which entombs her grandmother. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.”

These areas in northeastern Ukraine, recently liberated after months of Russian occupation, show what’s at stake as some Americans and Europeans seek to trim assistance for Ukraine. There are bombed-out buildings, survivors cooking over open fires outside, children injured by land mines, freshly vacated Russian torture chambers — 23 discovered so far here in the Kharkiv region alone — along with mass graves of corpses with hands tied and shattered limbs.

“Right now people are finding graves everywhere in the villages,” said Tamara Kravchenko, who runs the only funeral home still operating in Izium. “The Russians would often just throw dirt on bodies where they killed them. Every day we find someone.”

“We will be dealing with this for a long time,” she added.

While President Vladimir Putin of Russia seems unable to break the spirit of Ukrainians, he is already shattering the will of some Americans and Europeans.

“Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine,” says Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the firebrand Republican. The Republican leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, says that it’s time to end the “blank check” for Ukraine. A Wall Street Journal poll published this month found that 48 percent of Republicans believe the United States is doing too much to help Ukraine, up from 6 percent in March. On the American left and in Germany and France, there are also signs of impatience, though fewer.

“I’m not afraid that Ukrainians will tire of being attacked by missiles but that people in other countries will say, ‘Enough. Time to turn the page,’” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, 47, a former minister of finance who signed up to be a soldier after the Russian invasion in February, was injured in June and is now recovering.

He’s right. Buck up, America and Europe! And take some inspiration from Ukrainians themselves. I see people here suffering enormous hardship — yet ever more determined to fight back.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, 26, was a television journalist whose boyfriend, Oleksandr Makhov, enlisted as a soldier immediately after Putin invaded. After reaching the front, Makhov proposed to her by video call, jokingly proffering a ring from a grenade. “Yes!” she said, and they giddily planned what to name their children.

Then Makhov was killed in May by Russian fire — and Blyshchyk signed up to be a soldier herself. I met her on an icy afternoon near her base. She may have felt shattered, but she projected strength, wearing body armor and walking carefully to avoid land mines. “Follow in my footsteps,” she advised.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, a former television journalist, joined the military after her boyfriend was killed in combat. “They killed the man I love,” she said. “Of course I’m here.”

“Today is exactly six months since Oleksandr was killed,” she said, quivering but not teary. “I’ve promised myself I won’t cry.”

I asked her why she enlisted to fight the Russians.

“They killed the man I love,” she said simply. “Of course I’m here.”

Please do take the time to read the rest, for it is both interesting and informative.

Good People Doing Good Things — Too Many To Count

I have just one story for this week’s ‘good people’ post, but it involves so many good people helping a family of refugees from Ukraine that I’ve lost count.  Be sure you have a box of tissues handy for this one, my friends.

Back in February when Russian troops attacked Ukraine and rockets landed less than two miles from their home, the Bezhenar family of Odessa knew they needed to leave the country for their safety.  So the family of six: (Oleksandr (father), Mariia (mother), Nina (grandmother) and 3 daughters – Ahnessa (age 10), Anhelina (age 15), and Eleonora (age 17) set out for the border leaving everything behind except one suitcase each.  They left their home, Oleksandr’s business, and the family pets, two dogs and a couple of cats.

It was no small feat leaving Ukraine … they waited in line for more than 24 hours at the border to Romania, fearing they might not be allowed to cross because of the rule that males under age 55 would not be allowed to leave Ukraine because they were needed for military duty.  But when they finally reached the front of the line, they were told that there is an exception for men who are accompanying more than two children and they were allowed to cross.

After arriving in a refugee camp in Romania, the family was linked via a refugee program to a man in the San Francisco Bay Area, Geoffrey Peters, whose son had recently purchased a house he was planning to rent out.  Mr. Peters convinced his son to donate the house to a refugee family for a period of two years, and he offered it to the Bezhenar family.

After two months of paperwork delays, the Bezhenars were finally on their way to their new home in Cloverdale, just outside of San Francisco.  Their new home with no furniture.  But Mr. Peters called on friends and neighbors for help and the people of Cloverdale came together in remarkable ways!  They not only furnished the house, but upon learning that the Bezhenar’s daughters were musically inclined, someone donated a piano!  They entered their new home to find a fully stocked refrigerator and a welcome cake with a Ukrainian sunflower for decoration.

Geoffrey Peters tells their story in his own words on the GoFundMe page he set up to help the Bezhenar family.  What you’ve read so far, in and of itself, would be a good people story, with Mr. Peters, his son, and the many community members of Cloverdale who did so much to make this refugee family feel welcome, but … it doesn’t end there!

Now, during the flight from Romania to San Francisco, the family’s mum, Mariia, chatted with one of the flight attendants, Dee Harnish, and the two exchanged contact information and stayed in touch in the days after, as the Bezhenars settled into their new life.  One day, Dee Harnish called Mariia to see how they were doing and was told that the youngest daughter, Ahnessa, missed her cat, Arsenii, so much she was not sleeping well and had become inconsolable.  Dee was so moved by their story that she reached out to Caroline Viola, a fellow flight attendant who is involved in animal rescue. Caroline recognized the desire to get Arsenii out of Ukraine as the monumental mission that it was, but nevertheless she offered to see what she could do.

From her home in Hawaii, Caroline worked with a rescue worker in Houston, Texas, and Arsenii’s journey was about to begin.  Mariia’s brother-in-law, who was taking care of Arsenii back in Ukraine, took care of details on his end, getting him vaccinated, microchipped, and obtaining a passport for the furry family member.  Who knew pets needed a passport???  He then drove Arsenii across the border on his motorcycle to Moldova.  Then, a driver took him to Romania, where he lived with a foster family for one month while his passport and other documents had to be re-done, since he came from a non-EU country.  Finally, with paperwork all in order, Arsenii was ready to head to the U.S. to rejoin his family!

Another person involved with animal rescue, Mimi Kate, was on vacation in Greece at the time, but when advised of the need for a human to accompany Arsenii, she cut her vacation short and went to pick up Arsenii in Romania.  There, a tuk-tuk driver, as if the story couldn’t find room for more characters, helped out, and drove Arsenii and Kate from Bucharest back to make her flight in Athens. Kate then took Arsenii from Athens to Montreal, Canada, then back to her home in Seattle, Washington.  Aresnii had put 7,000 miles under his paws.  And at the end of the long journey …

The entire Bezhenar family greeted them at the airport and what a reunion it was!  So many good people working so hard to get this family to safety, help them establish a whole new life, and reunite them with their beloved furry family member.  I think you’ll love this video of the reunion … I certainly did.  You did remember your box of tissues, right?

World Kindness Day

Today is World Kindness Day … this is an updated redux from the post I did on this day two years ago that is still relevant today.

According to the website Inspire Kindness

World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. This day, celebrated on November 13 of each year, has the purpose is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.

Here’s something to think about …

So, imagine if you head out for the day and your neighbor’s garbage can has tipped over. Instead of ignoring it and letting the wind make a mess, you pick it up and return it to the corner. Three other neighbors notice and give you a smile and a nod on their way to work.

One of those neighbors notices a stranded driver on the side of the road on his commute to work. He remembers your thoughtfulness and offers assistance to the stranded driver. Several passersby take notice.

At a business office, a woman struggles with a paper jam. She’s had a horrible day. The customer has been waiting, but she remembers the stranded driver she passed earlier in the day. The customer lets the office worker take her time. Anyone can have a bad day, but this prevents it from getting worse and may even make it better.

We each have the potential to improve each others’ lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit.  Acts of kindness can and do have a domino effect, just as a smile is contagious.

Let’s all try to remember that we’re all in this boat (planet Earth) together, try to set aside our differences for a bit, and remember to be kind … not just today, but every day.

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Love ‘n hugs to all my wonderful friends from Filosofa!

Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

Time to look away from elections for a few minutes and take a look at some real-life heroes that our friend Keith is shining a light on today. Thank you, Keith, for such an inspiring post, for showing us the courage of those who have truly earned the title ‘hero’.

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My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay…

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Everything Is Not Alright

I was determined to either find another topic than Tuesday’s elections here in the U.S., else not write a post for this morning.  I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the elections, especially those of you who live outside the U.S. as nearly half of my readers do, and frankly I’m tired of talking/writing about them.  So, I was going to write about … oh, maybe the COP27 taking place this week, or the ignominious Kanye West, or … something!  But then … as I was attempting to reduce the clutter in my email inbox, I came across a piece by Thomas Friedman that … well, it just begs to be shared.  And so, once again, I’d like to talk about this election … and things to come.  Some of what Mr. Friedman says is frightening, much of it is not what we hoped to hear, but I believe he is right and that his words carry a great deal of wisdom for what happens in the future, not only here in the U.S., but elsewhere.

Thomas Friedman knows of what he speaks.  A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of seven books ranging from topics such as foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues, he is currently a weekly columnist for the New York Times.


America Dodged an Arrow

By Thomas Friedman

09 November 2022

You can hold off moving to Canada. You can forgo the call to the New Zealand Embassy on how to become a citizen there. Tuesday’s election really was the most important test since the Civil War of whether the engine of our constitutional system — our ability to peacefully and legitimately transfer power — remains intact. And it looks to have come through — a little dinged up, but OK.

I am still not even close to ready to sound the all-clear, to declare that running on a platform of election denialism will never tempt another American politician. But given the unprecedented degree to which election denialism was elevated in this midterm and the way several big-name Trump-imitating knuckleheads who made denialism central to their campaigns got their clocks cleaned —- we may have just dodged one of the biggest arrows ever aimed at the heart of our democracy.

To be sure, another arrow could target us at any moment, but the whole U.S. electoral system — in red states and blue — seemed to perform admirably, almost shrugging off the last two years of controversy, diminishing it to what it always was: the shameful fabrication of one man and his most shameless sycophants and imitators. Given the threat posed by Trump denialists to the acceptance and legitimacy of our elections, that is a big deal (and hopefully it will last through the Arizona count).

It could not come at a better time as the leaders of both Russia and China have manipulated their systems to entrench themselves in power beyond their previously established terms of office.

One of their arguments to their own people in doing so was to point to things like the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in America and the seeming chaos of our elections to tell their citizens: “That’s what democracy looks like. Is that what you want here?”

Indeed, in May, during his commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduating class, President Biden recalled when President Xi Jinping of China congratulated him in 2020 on his election: “He said democracies cannot be sustained in the 21st century; autocracies will run the world. Why? Things are changing so rapidly. Democracies require consensus, and it takes time, and you don’t have the time.”

For that reason, both Xi and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin — and the supreme leader in Iran now facing an uprising led by Iranian women — lost on Tuesday night, too. Because the more wild and unstable our politics, the less able we become to peacefully transfer power, the easier it is for them to justify never doing so.

But while election denialism took a thumping this week as a winning message, none of the things that are still eating away at the foundations of American democracy — and preventing us from actually getting big hard things done — have gone away.

I am talking about the way in which our primary system, gerrymandering and social networks have coalesced to steadily poison our national dialogue, steadily polarize our society into political tribes and steadily erode the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust.

Without being able to agree on what is true, we don’t know which way to go. And without being able to trust one another, we can’t head there together. And everything big and hard needs to be done together.

So, our enemies would be wise not to leave us for dead, but we would be even wiser not to conclude that, because we avoided the worst, we’ve locked in the best going forward.

Everything is not all right.

We are as divided coming out of this election as we were going into it. But to the extent that the red wave did not manifest itself — particularly in swing states like Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman won a Senate seat over the Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz, and in swing districts like one in central Virginia where Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger was re-elected by defeating another Trump-backed candidate — it was because enough independents and moderate Republicans and Democrats showed up to put Fetterman and Spanberger over the top.

“There is still a viable group of centrist voters out there, who, when given a valid choice — not everywhere, and not always, but in some key districts — asserted themselves,” Don Baer, who was a communications director in the Clinton White House, told me. “I think there are still a lot of voters saying: ‘We want a viable center, where we can figure out how to make things happen that can really help people, even if it isn’t perfect or all at once. We don’t want every election to be existential.’”

The challenge, added Baer, “is, how do you take that sentiment to scale and make it work in Washington on a regular basis?”

I don’t know, but, if this election is a sign that we are at least edging back from the brink, it’s because enough Americans still fall into this independent or centrist camp and do not want to keep dwelling on the grievances, lies and fantasies of Donald Trump, which they can see are making the G.O.P. crazy and roiling the whole country. They also don’t want to be shackled by the woke enforcers of the far left, and they are terrified by the spread of the kind of sick political violence that was just visited on Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

We owe a huge debt for keeping this center alive to Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Representative Elaine Luria. The three of them helped to spearhead the Jan. 6 investigation in Congress and ended up being forced out of office as a result. But the message that committee sent to enough voters — that we must never, ever, ever let something like this happen again — surely also contributed to the absence of a pro-Trump wave in this midterm election.

In sum, we did not get a clean bill of health. We got a diagnosis that our political white blood cells did OK in beating back the metastasizing infection that threatened to kill our whole electoral system. But that infection is still here, which is why the doctor advised, “Behave in healthy ways, build back your strength and return in 24 months for another scan.”