This past Erev Shabbat, I posed a question to those gathered for services. I asked them to envision what our country would look like, what it would be like, this coming Erev Shabbat. What would our mood as a nation be? What would our future look like?
I imagined what Noah would have felt had he had the opportunity to envision what the world would be like after the flood. Perhaps he was too busy taking care of all of the animals to have even considered that question, perhaps he spent sleepless nights worrying about what lay ahead. But, one way or the other, if he did think about the future, it would have been difficult for him to conceive of what awaited him. No one had ever been there before.
In some ways, I feel that this is comparable to our situation today. There is so much that we don’t know about where we will be once this election is over. For some of us, we are just absorbing ourselves in our daily lives and awaiting the results. For others, we have, in fact had those sleepless nights, the kind that cause anxiety and fear as we consider the future.
I am supporting Hillary Clinton and hoping that she wins this election. I have been careful not to say this from the pulpit directly although I am sure that I didn’t have to say it directly for people to understand it. It is consistent with political opinions that I have expressed in the past and my grave concern about the horrendous rhetoric and the isolationist, extremist positions offered by Donald Trump leave me no other reasonable choice. I admire Secretary Clinton and believe she is intelligent, compassionate and truly dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and bettering our nation in general, yet I am not completely enamored with her as a candidate and am concerned about many of the criticisms that have been raised and some of her actions. But, to me, this is a clear cut choice.
But, regardless of who wins the election, my question with which I began this posting remains.
Will the results of the election be accepted by the losing candidate? What will happen to the anger that has been raised throughout this election process? Can we recapture the bipartisan cooperative spirit which is so necessary to any kind of progress facing the issues of our time? Will our nation still live up to its stated principles as a nation of justice and compassion.
That last value is of paramount importance. As you know and can read elsewhere in this site, I spoke on Yom Kippur about the importance of compassion and I spoke in depth about how this election has been so lacking in compassion.
This isn’t the first mean-spirited election and it surely won’t be the last. But, the depths that have been reached and, even more importantly, the apparent willingness of so many to overlook divisive, insulting, hate-filled, immature and childish statements is so deeply troubling. Where will this lead us once the election has been decided?
The time has come for all of us to do two things: first, vote if you haven’t done so already and secondly, each and every one of us must commit ourselves to leading our nation away from the destructive nature of this campaign and move towards a brighter future.
When we see a rainbow, we are obligated to say a blessing in the spirit of the covenant that God promised at the end of the story of Noah: Blessed are You O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who remembers the covenant, is faithful to His covenant and fulfills that which His promised.
Our nation is built on a covenant of justice, compassion and equality.
May we remember it, be faithful to it and fulfill the promise that our nation has always represented.