Monday, November 7, 2016

The Day Before the Storm

"Olive Branches and Moonlight"
- At the Desert Retreat House- 

While browsing through various online newspapers this morning I was particularly struck by a headline in the Washington Post. On this eve of the American Presidential election, the newspaper proclaimed today as “The Day Before the Storm.”  That particular headline really grabbed my attention because, for me, it was an almost-perfect description of how so many people in this country and around the world probably feel on this eve of tomorrow’s very nasty, divisive and extremely anxious presidential election here in the United States.

Over the past year of this political season we have all been thoroughly inundated with toxic speech, hate-filled words of judgment and division. We have seen graphic images of citizens battling fellow citizens at political rallies and the social media has been filled with unprecedented, ugly personal attacks as the “culture wars” have grown in intensity. Many people in this country (as well as throughout the world) report that this election has created new levels of sometimes-unbearable anxiety in their lives, prompting some to to seek professional help.

For the past many months it has been “rough sailing” and in some sense it all comes to a head tomorrow, so I guess it’s fairly accurate to call this election eve: “The Day Before the Storm.”

Today as the storm clouds gather and the rough waves seem to swell, I turn to some “speech” that might help calm the seas a bit.  As an “election reflection” I recall the timeless words of someone I consider to be a truly great American hero - one of my very favorite spiritual gurus: The Reverend Dr. MartinLuther King. Jr.

Several generations ago Dr. King looked at this country and warned that we were in grave danger of losing the soul of the nation to the forces of bigotry and prejudice corroding the fabric of our society. He called us to look deep into our souls and find a place where we might all embrace one another with compassion even in the midst of our deeply-divided disagreements.

So, on this “Day Before the Storm” I reflect on what I hope will be calming words from Dr. King, some thoughts that may serve as an antidote to the poison that has so infected us, and I pray that together we will make it through the coming storm and find that place of peace.

Instead of endlessly checking my Facebook page, browsing newspapers and scanning social media postings, I am going to spend this day before I go out to vote reflecting on these thoughts:

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality
 and eats away at its vital unity.
Hate causes a person to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful.

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

But even in the midst of chaos I refuse to believe that humankind is
bound to the starless midnight of racism, bigotry and war.
I refuse to believe that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood
can never become a reality.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Yes, I still believe that
We shall overcome!

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