Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It’s Time For The Work To Continue

Yesterday, millions of Americans exercised their civic privilege and voted their conscience in an array of elections. For all the criticism and vitriol that has been spewed both on and offline over the last several weeks, our country and our world move onward. While some may lament the results of various elections and others may be rejoicing, one thing is clear. Our participation in our country’s government did not stop when the polls closed yesterday.

You see, we have a representative democracy government. We elect representatives whose goal is to serve the people of this country. Sometimes I think we lose sight of this. Over the last few years, I’ve been becoming more engaged personally, and realize that our government allows us a privilege of participation, not just in elections, but in writing our representatives, calling them, meeting with them, and speaking our minds.

No matter who became elected to our various offices, one thing that should never be neglected is that we need to work together. We need folks across the political spectrum to stay engaged, to work together, and to look to make a difference. For American citizens, our government is a daily participatory process. It’s not just the privilege of voting that people enjoy here in America, it’s the privilege of being actively engaged in the process throughout the year. Contrary to what people might believe about the process, our voices have the opportunity to be heard every day.

Our country is truly great when we all work together. When we say that the problems that we face are going to be faced together. Where I grew up, folks in the neighborhood didn’t have a whole lot of financial resources, but what we did have was each other. In my tribe, the situation was similar. Most of the people in my tribe didn’t have a lot of financial resources, but we had each other. And in both of these situations, folks would look out for one another, pitch-in, and help take care of each other.

I remember growing up, neighbors would help each other with auto repair. We would help one another replace roofs on our homes. My parents have almost always had a garden, and they would make a habit of sharing the bounty with our neighbors. Parents in the neighborhood looked out for all of the kids, so if you wanted to get into mischief, there were eyes everywhere who looked after us kids. Everybody contributed. Our neighborhood was maintained by people looking out for one another, and looking for opportunities to pitch-in and help.

Sometimes I feel like we have forgotten how to do this. We have forgotten about serving others, but often look to be served by others. We have gotten how to love our neighbor, and spend our time complaining about what our neighbor does or does not do. Together we are powerful. One of the great Shawnee leaders of the past compared the activities of one person to a single stick—that stick can easily be broken. On the other hand he compared it to the strength of a group of people working together. Together we are strong.

As Mohandes Gandhi said in a paraphrase of the words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Or, in the words of Jesus himself, “Before you try to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye, take the log out of your own eye.”

Let’s be strong, and move forward the way generations and communities in the past have done it. Together. 

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