I spent election day with people who are ready for a new day for our country.
After they voted, they gathered – Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Republican, Democrat – and served for two hours together at a food pantry and soup kitchen. At 4:00, the line for the free meal began to form outside – kids, parents, the elderly, all kinds of people in need of a hot meal.
After serving, our participants talked about religion and American society and shared their personal stories with each other. They shared a meal catered by Syrian refugees.
Ours is a movement of people who are saying “enough.” Enough senseless violence, enough poverty. Enough elitism, enough partisan bickering, enough racism. Enough disrespecting and dehumanizing people we don’t agree with.
We can do better. The kids standing in line for food deserve better.
There is so much pain in our country right now. Violence, hatred, fear, hopelessness. Our politicians have no answer. Our media has no answer. It’s up to us – in every community, every city, every small town, every neighborhood – to do whatever we can to put more love into the world. And for those of us who feel able to do so, to get out of our bubbles, to listen to our neighbors, to serve, to engage, to build a new narrative of what it means to live in this country. A narrative that Abraham Lincoln articulated when he said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
We won’t get there by papering over our differences, or pretending we can just wish our problems away. Civil dialogue alone will not solve what ails us. “Tolerance” will not build the kind of communities we need. We need to confront our challenges head on, honestly, no matter how difficult they might be. Now is not the time to do what is easy, or feels good. Now is the time to fight for the kind of country we want in every community, one conversation at a time, one act of service at a time, step by step.
In the weeks to come, we’ll be sharing with you our plans for 2018 and beyond and how you can be involved. Until then, we’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing.
Thanks for standing with us.
Director, One America Movement