Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation

Here at Screener we’ve been impressed this week by the national discourse — turbulence and violence were to be expected, and it’s perhaps a downer that the true shock is the measured, compassionate responses to the election on both sides of the halls of power … often, from the directions we’d least expect.

But one voice we know would never let us down is that of Amy Poehler and Mike Schur’s perfect creation, Leslie Knope. Both as the leading lady of “Parks & Recreation” and a superhuman source of energy, faith and boundless hope, Leslie Knope is exactly who we should be emulating this week. (Well, every day. But especially today.) And so we’re incredibly grateful to have been given this gift from her creators: An open letter to all of us, courtesy of Vox.

It is so easy to turn away from our fellows in times of stress: From fear of the unknown to fears and hatred we’ve been taught; from the dissonant confusion that comes when we meet someone it feels impossible to understand; from values that can seem nonsensical at best, if not downright evil, depending on where you’re standing.

But what Leslie has always stood for, from the pilot to the finale, is the common-sense and pragmatic — but also near-spiritual and overwhelming — understanding that these are your people.

At the end of the day, we have more in common with one another — across the country, and across the world — than will ever divide us. People like to imagine that they are unique and strange individuals with unique and powerful needs and insights, but the real truth is that our differences are minuscule. We see them through a very large magnifying glass or two — the internet, the echo chamber, the insane news media, the louder and louder shouts and screams of the ones who feel left behind — but at the end of the day, these are your people.

There are not two Americas, and there never were. What there is, is a very large family trying desperately to love each other. And when that feels hard — and this week, maybe impossible — it’s Leslie that can show us the way. Or at least, remind us that it exists. Here’s our favorite bit:

“…The point of the lesson is: People are unpredictable, and democracy is insane.”

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried.” That is perhaps a pithier and better way to get my point across… Should I just erase all of that and start with this? Whatever. I’m pot-committed now, and is there extra caffeine in that hot chocolate? Because my head feels like a spaceship.

The point is: People making their own decisions is, on balance, better than an autocrat making decisions for them.

Thank you, Leslie. It may well be a bit too raw to follow your lead just yet. But that moment is coming, when we are healed enough to start the long, limping walk home. And just knowing that helps more than we can say.

Posted by:Jacob Clifton

Austin writer & critic, formerly editorial at Tribune Media & Gawker; Television Without Pity, BuzzFeed, Austin Chronicle, and more.