A prayer for America on the eve of the election.
I offer a prayer or a meditation, a reflection, or whatever word is meaningful for you for today, tomorrow, and the rest that is to come.
My prayer for America is that we get to continue.
I pray you make your voice heard. I pray that you walk into the places with your head held high and know that your voice matters.
I pray that the ideals we speak of, that all might be created equal and worthy of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, that experiment we fashioned and then exported to the broader world, is proven valid.
I pray democracy, the will of the people to have a voice in shaping how we are lead, is allowed to prevail.
I pray that people I love will not have to wake up in fear. I pray that I will not have to wake up in fear, staggeringly vigilant to the ways in which the next ill-thought whim may takeaway my rights, or the rights of people like and unlike me.
I pray that we not presented with another depiction of American carnage but that we are allowed to rise in a spirit of American decency. That we are able to begin the process of reforging the identity of what it means to be a person in this country, and that we are not in a constant state of division. I pray that our leaders try to lead for all of us, not just whichever state chose the correct color on the map.
I pray that wounds are healed.
I pray that we remember what happens when we get involved, when we extinguish the thought that some things are inevitable and incapable of change.
I pray that we remember our politics IS personal, that it is not some game to be batted about, teams picked, and to cheer for one side to lose. When we demand it, when we are in pursuit of the vision we have for addressing the crises before us, we can change things. No matter the outcome we will need more of this in the coming months, and years, to come.
I pray that we are allowed to care again.
As I sit here on the eve of the election which feels like we have been living for 5 years instead of 4 months, I find myself praying that we are no longer punished or chastised for caring.
Care is a powerful thing, it guides my politics as it guides my faith.
Yet we are told that our feelings our fears and our empathy are trivial things to be dispensed with as weakness.
We are told that our act of care must be perfect in execution and applied equally in all circumstances to be true.
We are falsely led to believe that when we respond with a strong feeling about something we have witnessed, a story we have heard, or an act we find beyond what we can abide, that our feelings are just manipulations.
We are told that if we REALLY cared as we said we did we’d care about this other thing too; since we didn’t, our care cannot be real.
So slowly we learn not to care. We learn to turn our eyes towards something else, to hide our feelings and the still small voice within us.
We have somehow constructed a test where one has to be perfect on every issue for our thoughts and feelings on any subject to matter. Yes, I am sometimes a hypocrite. I support workers but I still shop at amazon. I find myself still invested in the project of America despite the ways in which this very idea has created harm to many. I have blind spots, inconsistencies, and areas that do not always perfectly align. I do not always participate in the same forms of activism as I should.
I am certain that there are people reading this now who will be quick to point those out to me, and I will have to face that.
Yet I am astonished by a growing sentiment that our politics must always be one of perfect application for it to be real, for it to matter. That we cannot do any one thing because we must in fact do ALL things at the same time; that unless we are a perfect activist our care is nothing more than a signaled virtue.
I pray that your care is registered, that those feelings that rise up in you and are given voice and it changes even one small thing.
I care. I care because I don’t want THIS anymore.
I pray that the ideals we speak about, the things that we used to encompass in our norms and took for granted make some kind of return. Four years ago I said the election was a question of what kind of country we wanted to be, a test of our moral consciousness and what we were willing to accept. We got an answer to the question and it broke some of us.
I find myself longing for a return of the kind of symbol offered of our better selves. Maybe it never was that way, maybe I’m nostalgic for a symbology that never was, but I miss it. I miss the meaning that the Presidency was an extension of our entire America, that even when we deeply disagreed or found harm in an administration’s policies, there was something about the power of the office. Ironically much like the British monarchy it was a symbol upon which we cast our best projections of the kind of people we wanted to be. We wish we were smart, or charismatic, or good leader, or have brilliant solutions to complex problems, or calm in a crisis, or a command of forces we could never muster, or any of these things. The last four years has felt like all of that, all the small ways we construct the symbols of America have been tarnished, tattered, or outright terminated.
I hope we don’t forget the tapestries we dispensed with, nor the ways in which our ceremonies hid some dark mendacious thing lurking beneath the gild.
I miss the gild, but I don’t miss the monster.
I pray that we are able to restore the truth to our words, to work to make them true for all, and that we might deserve a little pagentry to give us some light to look towards instead of glitz to disguise the ugly truths beneath.
I pray that we no longer cast care and hope in the shadow of cynicisim.
The last four years with every act of horror, with each new unprecedented act, we’ve sometimes offered the world cynicism instead of hope. We say ‘what did you expect’ and “of course we tried to tell you”. In discussions I’d hear “he’s going to win again, he just will. That’s the grossness of who and what America is”
Hope is necessary because our outcomes are uncertain and cycnicisim is a disguise to avoid disappointment.
When was the last time you felt hope?
When was the last time you let yourself feel it? When did it drive you to action?
As dark and terrifying as things have been, they have not been without moments of hope.
I see hope in the ways in which people have realized the power an office has in shaping their lives.
I see hope in the friend who admitted they had never voted and the steps they took the last 2 years to learn more and cast their very first vote a week ago.
The mom who organized a black lives matter march in her affluent white suburb.
The moms who formed secret text threads and facebook groups and are voting in waves because they want a world that reflects the values they tell their children about.
I see hope in the agenda of everything a new administration will have to face. Getting drug prices lowered, reforming our broken systems of healthcare, education, energy, criminal justice. I see hope in the idea that the things we think of as common sense, the reforms that 70% of the country agrees with, have a chance to be acted on if we let it.
I see hope in the millions of people who are casting their votes for the first time.
We are so often told what is not possible, what we should not expect so we swallow hope and we never try. But we can do things. We CAN hope.
I pray you let yourself feel hope.
I pray for peace in our world and in our hearts.
I pray that we get to continue.