God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)Let’s get my inflammatory headline out of the way first. I will grudgingly accept the results of our Presidential election in the short term as the best our degraded, dehumanizing, twisted system can produce as of now. And, to be clear, I didn’t vote for either of the major party candidates. So, partisan sour grapes are not on my table. Here is what I cannot accept: our rigged two-party system and the media that shuts out and minimizes other vibrant political views. The traveling circus sideshow we label “debates” is one concrete example. Are you aware that the League of Women Voters used to conduct these events? In 1987, the party duopoly created the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Commission chose the League to sponsor the last presidential debate of 1988, but placed so many rules and restrictions on the format that the League refused to participate stating, they had “no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.” We’ve been hoodwinked with the following:
- A political system where corporate money has replaced the individual vote.
- A voting system that inhibits and suppresses voting – especially for the elderly, and people of color and low income. In 2015, Global Democracy ranked the quality of our democracy as 16th in the world.
- A system whose soul is rotted with a passion for weapons and war over everyday people’s basic survival, not to mention over-cultivating our divine human potential.
- A system that produced two of the most despicable candidates perhaps in American history.
- A system that has, once again, in 16 years “elected” a president who lost the popular vote. The electoral college exists because our aristocratic founding white, male fathers didn’t think we groundlings had the smarts to vote properly.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.I can’t change this election debacle. But I do have the courage to dedicate my life force to change the things I chronicled above. In my view, the Trump election got it half right. It is a resounding victory for populism. Part of that triumph blames pluralism for our woes. This falls frightfully short of our lofty ideals. I intend to commit myself to a nation that enhances and celebrates populism AND pluralism. I invite you to do the same. This is the only antidote I know of for utter despair and cynicism. You might even call it serenity. I close with a life-giving sentiment from Unitarian Minister Edward Everett Hale:
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Chuck Freeman is the founding Minister of the Free Souls Congregation in Round Rock. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.