Today, in the United States, is President’s Day, which honors the birthdays of two of the most revered of our presidents – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But in this presidential election campaign, and a very crazy one at that, my thoughts turn to the current crop of candidates and who will end up the winner in November. Given the power of the office, so much of the nation’s well-being will depend on that person’s performance, although of course there are many other factors influencing how the country will fare.
Because there is a lot at stake in this election, I can’t help but look at the merits and drawbacks of the various candidates, as well as the overall process. In so doing, I feel great concern that there is far too much ego, negativity, reactivity, divisiveness, demagoguery, and disconnection from reality. There’s always some of that in the world of politics in general, and election years in particular, but this time around, it seems much more intense. But I also feel hope in the passion, empathy, truth-seeking, upsetting of the old order, and the vision and determination for real change.
The challenges that the U.S. faces, both domestically and internationally are enormous and complex, and there is much to debate about, in terms of policies and priorities. But rather than offer political commentary, or advocate or endorse any particular candidate, I want to share here what strikes me from a spiritual perspective. Which is that this election is about a stark choice between two paths – the paths of love and fear. Do we choose the path of love – inclusivity, “us” rather than “me”, unity, wisdom and awareness, compassion, bold vision, free thinking, creativity, equality, respect, peace, caring for the earth, and a quality of communal life that supports the mind, heart, and soul, as well as the body? Or do we choose the path of fear – overly protective and armored, a mentality of me-first, us vs. them “othering” and “we’re the greatest”, resistance to change, reactivity, manipulation, controlling, fundamentalism, endless conflict, sheep-like conformity, and exploiting the earth?
That said, I don’t mean to suggest that one candidate or political platform is totally on one path or the other. It’s not black and white, however enthusiastic or repelled we might be by a particular candidate or their political party. And, as the saying goes, I don’t want to make “perfection as the enemy of the good.” But for me the path of love is a clear guiding framework to help make sense of and a sturdy boat to guide me through the wild and weird rapids of this election year madness. While the temptation is sometimes strong to tune it all out and just be “spiritual”, I know I can’t because I am responsible, as is everyone else, for what goes on in our world. Each of us holds the world, and each other.