As a Quaker growing up, I learned:
There is that of God in everyone.
All humans are equal.
Love your neighbors, & enemies.
Respect other faiths.
Simplicity, & integrity.
Forgive trespasses, & those who trespass against us.
Be a good steward of Earth.
My formative experience of Christianity, as a religion & practice, was fundamentally about love. Forgiveness. Grace. Humility. Tolerance. My community set an open door to all those who sought sanctuary & would abide there in peace. But cruelty, exclusion, & lies were not welcomed.
In the wake of our most grievous war, fought to end our union’s original sin of slavery, Lincoln said “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.”
Politicians would help heal wounds by embracing that ethos today.
After a grievous pandemic and insurrection, our union feels more divided and angry than any time since the Civil War.
The angels of our better nature are being drowned out by the demons of our worst selves and the trolls of our ugliest sewers, polluting public discourse with elements of the same hatred and vitriol that justified slavery and genocide in past centuries.
Our faith in the reason and wisdom of our fellow humans has been reasonably shaken by participatory delusions nurtured and spread by weapons of mass destraction, driving political violence and waves of death as people reject the public health measures that would end a pandemic from a preventable disease.
Millions of Americans have embraced a twisted form of medical freedom, conspiracies, and poisoned lies about vaccines that leaves the weak, sick, disabled, and immunocompromised at greater risk so that the healthy are not inconvenienced nor asked to sacrifice or for a greater good.
In 2022, we haven’t just lost trust in government but in one another. We’ve lost trust in our elected representatives, civil servants, and local officials to make safe decisions, wield power without abusing it, put patriotism before party, administer the vote, or prioritize public health before corporate profit or partisan advantage.
If we don’t find better ways to rebuild the bonds of fraternity and sorority around shared civic principles and moral values at the local level over the course of the year, I fear worse lies ahead next winter and the years ahead.
The threat of wars in Europe and Asia will put a premium on national cohesion, as the enemies of democracy everywhere will use our glaring weaknesses to divide us further, amplifying our domestic merchants of doubt, denial, fear, & hate, flooding our beleaguered institutions with lies and lunacy.
Previous generations navigated civil wars and world wars that posed existential challenges to what the United States would be and to whom.
Our parents and grandparents and great grandparents suffered and sacrificed and redefined a nation to become something closer to its founding principles through wars, universal suffrage, and civil rights movements enabled our union to became a fragile, flawed multiracial, pluralistic democracy in 1965.
Today, we endure as a decadent superpower, able to destroy the planet many times over but corrupted by wealth and power and burdened by the legacy of slavery.
We are still unable to provide for the health, welfare, and education of all of our families, uphold equal justice under the law for all of our people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or creed, or come together to suppress a pandemic.
Poverty and hunger endure not because we don’t have the resources or capacity to ensure no one goes hungry or unhoused or deprived of life and liberty or the vote without due process, but because we lack the national will to defend the Constitutional rights of every person in our states.
May we find our way back to the grace, generosity, and decency that embody the best of my neighbors as we go forward into whatever this year holds.