Elections alone do not define us

My heart is heavy. I cannot watch any more election coverage. I cannot listen to the normalization of hatred and fear.

One thing is clear: calling people out on racism is not a winning political strategy. Before you throw shade at me, please hear me out. Humans have internalized that the abstract idea of “racism” is bad. And therefore, they are not interested in having their identities mired by it. Humans who have been fed a steady diet of hate and fear are out to protect the people and places they love. They don’t even care that their politicians lie. As long as you’re on their side, they will keep voting.

And here’s the thing: as more and more of the population gathers in cities, the vast majority of governorships and Senate races will be among these scared white people.

I could say a lot about how fearful I am of this wave of hate. There’s a reason anti-Jewish acts have reached a fever pitch in this country. We have always been the first line of hate for fearful white people. Not to mention how easily all politicians disparage China / “the Chinese.” As if the Chinese economy was created in a vacuum and not deeply intertwined with the profit margins of corporations based in the United States.

So yes, I have many, many political thoughts. And yet, I have never been more certain that political rhetoric will not heal this nation. Absolutely, we need to do our civic duty. It is our responsibility as citizens to vote in every single election. And those who feel called to volunteer during elections should do so. But these actions alone will not heal us, nor will they stem the tide of hate and fear.

What we need most is civility. You may bash me for “expecting respectability politics.” But I know from personal experience that the only way to strengthen the bonds of community is to see each other’s souls and build bridges beyond politics. My soul was deeply wounded by being called a “self-hating Jew.” We cannot afford to denigrate our neighbors for their misguided politics. We will never be able to out hate the haters. Only love can move us forward.

I am no longer looking for a Blue wave of salvation. I am praying for Divine guidance to help us strengthen the bonds between each other, neighbor to neighbor. Not by mass texting people you’ve never met. Actually attending events in your city, meeting people face to face. Building bonds of trust that will outlast the darkness.

And maybe we all need to think about a news media diet. Not just demand it of our Fox viewing relatives. Really ask yourself if your podcast feed, social media feed, and TV habits are helping you find the wellspring of joy, the soul nourishment necessary to keep going through the dark days ahead. I know I’m rethinking listening to Rachel Maddow, The Daily, and Up First as I greet the day. I know I’m more likely to become the person I want to be if I figure out a way to wake up earlier and pray rather than forging headlong into the divisive world of politics straight from the collective realm of dreams.

I voted today because it is my responsibility as a citizen. But the outcome of two-party elections cannot define the course of our country. I refuse to be swept up in the narratives analyzing this election.

I’m not going to hide under a rock and pretend the world isn’t spinning. But I’ve never been more convinced that the way we talk about our collective life is part of the problem. Relying on the news media who avoid the word “lie” because the current President of the United States lies so much that using the word would make it meaningless won’t heal us. Nor will it make my family safer to know just how much “the blue wave failed” as I heard  earlier tonight on CNN. Our future is not determined by who sits in the White House, Congress, or the State House. As important as elections are, they are only the beginning of the process. My primary identity is not with a political party, it is with the souls that surround me. I am thoroughly convinced that our compassion is stronger than their hate.

My innocent Chinese Jewish sons, and all of our children, including the ones ripped from their parents at the border, deserve better. I choose to bend the arc of the moral universe with radical hospitality and deep love. Will you join me?

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