American Spirit Rising

I’m traveling by train from Boston to New York City on this auspicious, some might say, portentous morning. This is, as we all know, Election Day, the election that’s exposed all the rifts, all the searing heat, and all the fear. And yet, this will be the last I speak of it, for today at least.

When my friends express their fear and confusion, I feel it; I understand it and it gnaws on me from the inside as well. What’s going to be? Where are we headed? What has happened to America? And because we are, by belief and by design, soft and vulnerable things, delicate bodies carrying a precious cargo of thoughts and dreams, we are easily scared, and just as easily prone to rash decisions and easy solutions. We are subject to being swayed by anyone with a loud enough voice and a brash enough tone. We are seduced by anyone who tells us the he or she can offer us protection and guidance. But beyond our fragile bodies, bodies that bleed and hurt, and ultimately perish, there exists an inextinguishable spirit. It is that spirit, the part of us that hovers infinite degrees above the din and clamor of this day, the part that proceeds more slowly and with far more assuredness than our bodies and our worried minds, that I want to speak about today.

Where we feel powerless to achieve anything of great significance –because after all, who are we anyway? — It is the spirit that comes, and in a voice that can be heard only after CNN and Fox and MSNBC, and all the others have stopped their for-profit shouting, and their for-profit pandering to the basest parts of our intelligence, says: Go now to your children, go now to your partners, go now to your parents, go now to your friends, go now to your neighbors, and to your God, and shower them all with love.

This is an act that matters. This is a subversive act, an act that stands in contradistinction to the poison and the hate mongering and the cynical use of fear as sales tactic. The spirit has no marketing department, no strategic planning committee, no one to proclaim its strength and reality on social media. And so, we neglect that, which is strongest within us. Parents call your children today; tell them that you love them. Husbands shower your wives with love and praise. Wives tell your husbands they make you proud, that you are proud and happy to walk through the world with them.

Today we have practical, tangible things we must do to uphold our democracy, that’s a given. But know that today, (and especially tomorrow, no matter what the outcome), we need to purify the dirty air, we need to take advantage of every moment to use our most powerful resource: Our ability to give love and to receive it in return. This is where the strength of human will becomes evident; this is where the might of human volition shines brightest.

All this is cliché and platitude you say. All this is fiction and fairy tales. The world is cold and it abides only by the rule of money and, and power and politics. But the spirit says no. It insists that that assumption; which is one, we as a species has borne on our backs us since time immemorial, is mistaken. What has truly changed lives through the generations, what has truly made the world better –not simply faster, or easier –has been the ability of a father to instill his children with a sense of gratitude and hope, it has been the ability of woman to nurture herself and the people around her, it has been the ability of leaders of all kinds to empower, to include, and to teach that giving always supersedes hoarding for oneself alone.

Today the collective spirit rises and says, we as a nation are whole, not fractured, we are upright, not fallen. America after all, is a collection of spirits. We can sense that only when we shut off the noise and let them soar.

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