After the 2016 national election, as a private citizen, I grieve that nearly half of Americans eligible to vote did not vote. Some would say that this is because they weren't ‘inspired.’ Yet, the truth is that it is our great duty, delight and honor to cast a vote in a democracy. It is not entertainment. It is not second to whatever else is going on. It is not if we 'like' the candidate or the candidate looks like us or says what we want to hear. It is about being a discerning and wise people making an ever-better democracy where everyone counts, and it begins by voting. Doing nothing is still doing something. Together, we will now reap what we, as a whole people, have sown.
May we learn from this experience to vote, to make our voice heard. If it is possible for better outcomes, let us act, however imperfectly, with urgency, reason and resilience.
May we compassionately understand that the ‘fears,’ viewed by some, are realities experienced by others.
May we be fierce in refusing false divisions; and stretch daily in truly loving all people without fixing or conditions.
May we be ever vigilant.
Up to 53% of Americans thought that enough progress had been made that voting wasn’t necessary.
We are reminded throughout the election, regardless of party or opinion, that we need to carefully oversee leaders’ actions. Every leader needs to be accountable, regardless. It is important not to unduly restrict leaders’ freedom to move well for the common good while at the same time, being vigilant so that “absolute power does not corrupt absolutely.”
May we be forgiven for underestimating the power of sin: urban economics, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, and discrimination against body – ableism, forcing unwanted births and obsession with female bodies being thin and beautiful for the pleasure of some men.
May we remember always that the Divine created in magnificent diversity. Life-giving diversity is in every part of life including our democratic society. (And no, democratic society is not synonymous with democratic institution.) May we gather in Utah, and throughout the nation, to learn from, serve and receive service from, befriend, protect, diverse people - protect everyone in a radical, democratic, equality to the best of our human ability. Standing together for the lives of all of us has never been more important. May we be brave in facing the injustices of the world; letting go of 'privileges' that lead to elitism and one-up-one-down dynamics. Let us be bold, vocal, respectful, passionate and public with our voice. And above all else, let us honor the diverse divinity within our very self which is always only divine in its radical equality with every one else's radical divinity; and honor that diverse God-given divinity in each and every person – an inherent part of all creation.
Today, like Martin Luther suggests, I “plant a tree,” and in the process become more loving and hopeful as I pray and act unceasingly for a better America. Join me?
Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where s/he him/herself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings, queens, connive nor tyrants scheme
That any person be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man and woman driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man and woman , full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work of the people! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man, the woman, who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings and queens,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man and woman who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man and woman is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor person’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
Note: Less than 10% of Mr. Langston Hughes collection of works
is used here for educational purpose.