We are at the finish line of this historic race, my friends. With agonizing impatience I watch the gap narrow between the two front runners as they both gain momentum. It’s unreal I say yet ‘In Godspeed’ I wish for the one I hope will make a difference. The sad truth is I root for one not because they embody every value I stand for but because they are a little less likely to destroy the vision of hope I have created for our children. In unison with the crowd, my heart cries ‘CHANGE’ though in the very same breath and in unison again with the throngs, my mind wonders ‘What have we come to?’
I stop cheering and glance at the young lady standing next to me. She smiles nervously and through the nervousness gives me a glimpse of the heaviness her heart carries. She is a young mother of three and for reasons beyond her control, she must abort her unborn fetus. Her heart knows this is what is best but she is afraid, in turmoil as she hears constant screams of ‘Murderer’ from people who do not live her life. She wishes they could just leave her be. I reach out my hand to hold hers.
To my other side, I see a frail old man. His eyes tell me the story of a hardworking man of color who has had to battle prejudice and racism in his young days. He is proud of the way he has built his life. The battles did not scar his integrity at all but fears for his future dent his pride. His integrity cannot pay off his medical bills. Rising premiums and deductibles have weakened this once strong man. I give him my other hand and he responds by tightly holding mine.
I watch as this respectable senior in turn offers his hand to the young boy next to him. A young spirited soul who cares deeply about the world. He struggles to his place here though because of his orientation.
‘Do not judge’ he pleads repeatedly. ‘I feel pain and joy just as everyone else. I am just like you.’
The strength of my hand gives the young woman next to me the courage to reach out to another- a war hero and seeker of the Islamic faith. ‘I love this country just as much as you do’ his convincing eyes say. ‘I have fought to keep its’ beautiful people safe and its’ ideals high. At the battlegrounds, I have prayed to Allah to infuse me with the strength to make this great country proud of me. My faith makes me a better soldier.’
As the human chain grows, the cheers fade. A realization dawns that in the warmth of another’s heart we have already found what we were looking for. It does not matter who wins the race. Change does not happen when the people we elect wish it. It only happens when each of our hearts make space to accept another very different from us. When we cease to blame and judge and choose to live and let live we choose cohesiveness over divisiveness. It truly does not matter whom we vote for unless we make the shift within. Tomorrow morning when we wake up dear friends, if we ignite the candle of acceptance in our hearts we have already chosen hope.