As we move towards the mid-term elections next week, I think of all the dark moments in our nation’s experience these past months; the Muslim ban, the Charlottesville violence and murder of a young woman, the national abandonment of Puerto Rico after its devastating hurricane, the separation of children at the border from their parents, the fixation on political refugees fleeing for their lives from Honduras and hoping for political asylum based on a well-founded fear of persecution should they return to their home country, the rise in anti-Semitism, the murder of eleven Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a white anti-Semitic nationalist, the threatened pipe-bombings of many of our nation’s leaders and Democratic activists, the murder of two African Americans by a white nationalist, the relentless dog-whistling to racism and hate, the personal attack on political enemies and the media, and on and on.
And I think of all the lightas well, people from every ethnic, religious, and national background coming together in solidarity to affirm our common humanity.
As much as I worry about the direction of our country and the cowardice of too many political leaders in Washington to speak out morally against all the outrageous statements and actions by the President, I also take heart that so many good people are running for office at every level of city, state and national government and that our nation has an opportunity to make a correction in its path, to renew the checks and balances built into the Constitution, and release the better angels of our national character.
In the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 54b) it is written:
“Whoever can stop…the people of his/her city from sinning, but does not…is held responsible for the sins of the people of his/her city. If s/he can stop a whole world from sinning, and does not, he/she is held responsible for the sins of the whole world.”
Rabbi Abraham Heschel expressed the moral spirit of Judaism when he said that “some are guilty; all are responsible.”
We are responsible whether we’ve been critics of this government’s policies or not. That’s why it is so important on Tuesday that every adult American vote. Polls suggest historically that young people do not vote in mid-term elections. If you have a son or a daughter, a grandson or a granddaughter, a niece or nephew, cousin or friend, employee or colleague that is young – please tell them to vote next Tuesday and remind them that recent history has proven that elections can be decided by only dozens of people.
I am hoping for a turnaround election and a resulting statement to the nation and world that America is still America, that the light of morality shines through in our political process!