The Day After the Election

At this point, we know the news. It doesn’t bear repeating. Our nation has made a choice, and the direction of our next four years is set.

This election was always beyond politics, beyond differences in policy among two different visions of what America is and could be. This election was a test of our national character that was characterized by bullying, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and dishonesty. And we wake up this morning to recognize the deep divisions that exist, how our decisions and lives are driven by fear as much as opportunity, how uncertainty and instability can be exploited for systematic change.

The immediate impulse now is to analyze and to blame, but we may not know the answers. Massive systems like national elections have many moving parts, and trying to discern cause and effect, or play the “what if” game, is futile. Analysis is good, and will come in its due time.

The other impulse is to immediately offer hope, to point to our resiliency, our ability to overcome adversity, to know that sometimes you need to hit bottom before you go up. But right now we are hurting, and we should acknowledge shock and grief. Hope, too, will come in its due time.

I would not be honest with you to say that I don’t harbor a sense of fear. For me personally, as a Jew, I wonder what the demagoguery means now that anti-Semitic imagery and attitudes was emboldened during this campaign. For my family, I wonder if my health insurance, which I purchased off the Washington State Exchange (“Obamacare”) is threatened. For all of us who feel that social and economic progress was made over these past few years, I fear that these gains would be rolled back.

But again, we do not know what the next four years will bring. We do not know what the next few days will bring. I do hold out a vision that over the course of the next four years we can see deeply into the souls of one another, recognize both the positive and negative forces that brought about this result, and develop a true sense of compassion for those who are unlike us.

As a rabbi, I always feel that I should draw on some Torah, or ancient wisdom, or particular verse that will speak to the moment. But oftentimes words fail us. For now, I offer you the simple Torah that is deep human connection, of loving our neighbors, of supporting local community, of thoughtful intellectual engagement, of open hearts, of moving forward, of not falling into complacency, of hugging our kids, of supporting the vulnerable, of honoring diversity, of repair of the world, of choosing life, of limitless potential, of awe and vision and gratitude.

And, yes, of hope. Hazak, hazak, venithazek. May we go from strength to strength, and strengthen one another.

Before I went to bed last night, I wrote one line on Facebook: “We need each other now more than ever.” I truly believe this. Tonight, for those who wish to gather in sacred space, the Temple Beth Hatfiloh sanctuary will be open to anyone (anyone!) who wishes to join me and each other to hold space, breathe, offer up a prayer, or a thought, or a song. 7:30-8:30 p.m. tonight (November 9) Please share as you so desire.

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