HOWEVER you vote (and I do believe informed people should vote) or don’t vote and HOWEVER you feel about the outcome, PLEASE make a commitment today to ACT in new ways to support the life you want for yourself, for your children and your grandchildren, for the most vulnerable in our communities.
The justice system is horribly broken and has not been mentioned by any candidate beyond a few painfully familiar "I'm in favor of law and order" platitudes. There is more than enough work for people with kind hearts and strong stomachs to give a hand up to people already wounded horribly.
Workers in the legal system from law enforcement to legal aid to correction officers are distressed, fearful and struggling to find hope. This pandemic is leaving our most vulnerable children further behind academically because parents who fell through cracks in school themselves have special challenges in helping their children with distance learning, and web access is far from universal. Small businesses are struggling to keep meeting payroll and providing services. Front line workers are exhausted. Rising suicides give a window on mental health needs. Domestic dysfunction and violence are underreported in rising crime statistics all planting seeds for on-going challenges....just to name a few.
None of this gets better because someone protests or thinks "That is so sad."
It gets better when we are each willing to walk beside the wounded, hold our churches and elected/public officials accountable, become better informed, serve in the trenches. How wonderful if after this election every social service organization complained they had too many volunteers, too many contributions of time, resources, and talents. How amazing if we learned to let go of at least a little of the fear that keeps us from lending a hand, an ear, a prayer, a dollar for someone who has a bit less than us, or maybe a lot less than us. Every day we need people with lots of experience and perspective and ideas as well as hands and feet and ears for service if we are going to make a difference.
And please understand, no president can make these urgent changes and often the more government tries to fix things the more dangerous life becomes (i.e. “Keep us safe legislation” from the 1980s whose egregious consequences become wounding every day). Our only hope is in our own hands. I would say, our only hope is in the authority given us by God to love justice, to act in ways consistent with the teachings of Christ. But no matter one's spiritual perspective, I assure you that more than 200 years of U S History have left very clear evidence that waiting for government to fix anything is a hollow hope.
But, if we can get concerned citizens seriously ACTING in big numbers, then maybe the government can be a lever for all of us to make things better. But WE have to pay attention, stay involved day-to-day, take time to listen to older people who have more wisdom than we might want to admit and who may have better quality of life if they are respected and welcomed to the table. WE need ideas from everyone including all political philosophies, economic backgrounds, employment backgrounds, cultural perspectives, health experiences, travel experiences, local experiences, family sizes and structures, et al. And all that works best if we seek to understand before we seek to be understood if I may paraphrase Steven Covey.
I deeply value a quote from JUST MERCY's Bryan Stevenson's TED Talk where he tells of the encouragement he got from a janitor at a courthouse where he was involved in a legal dispute. The janitor longed to give Mr. Stevenson encouragement in a hostile environment and he spoke these words: "Keep your eyes on the prize. Don't give up." Years later his encouragement speaks to all of us who long for a more just world, more opportunity for the poor, more kindness for our children, more hope for all our grandchildren.
We desperately need all hands on deck with all possible haste. We need lots of eyes, hands, feet and brains engaged in building a better world rather than distracted by the latest pumpkin flavor or building a buck list of self-focused dreams.
What will you be doing starting Wednesday to make a better world?