We live in a big, diverse community, with messy problems. This is true of all societies, and those who have tried to apply simple solutions to messy problems have failed throughout history. So here is my prayer for us as a nation today:
- That we put people before things, people before money. The G-D of the Old Testament said it, Jesus said it, the Buddha said it, Mohammed said it, and it affirms all of our well-being when we do it. When people are safe, healthy, and respected, great things happen. Call it the trickle-up theory of humanity.
- That we all recognize that problems that take a long time to create generally take at least as long to solve. If we pretend the problems we have as a society didn't occur until after 2009, then we are not only lying to ourselves (something that nobody ever benefits from), but no matter who ends up in the White House, that president will continue to be doomed by our communal impatience and immaturity.
- That each of us confronts our own biases and fears (they are the same thing, and we all have them), and analyze how they affect our decisions. My personal goal is to never do anything that offends my soul. Sometimes that takes a lot of thought.
- That what we leave our children isn't just limited to the size of the debt. What we leave our children includes the value and opportunity presented in their education, the examples we have shown them, the lessons we have shared with them through our dinner-time conversation, the quality of the air, the health of the earth, the impact of the weather, and the values we have taught them with the policies we pursue. Will our children judge that we have faithfully pursued the holistic values of whatever religion we profess, or that we chased some of those values at the expense of others for personal reasons? Legacy is and has always been about more than money.
- I pray that all of us are voting FOR things we have carefully considered - not just as isolated elements, but for the entire package of ideas and implications they represent. Neither Obama nor Romney offers a perfect platform, because that is impossible. Both of them, however, represent very different world views. I pray that everyone is willing to and capable of thinking about what world view they are voting for - even if it means staying up all night to think about it - and then voting a conscience FOR something big and encompassing and capable of addressing the full range of messy problems we have (and always will have) as a large society. A vote against any particular aspect of either candidate is too small to be worthy.
OK, so that's my big prayer for today. What's yours?