I was raised in a loving environment. That was the luck of the draw and my good fortune. Growing up in a small family unit where we all looked after one another, and mostly my parents and grandmother looked after me, it is just natural for me to extend that compassion, as best I can, to others whom I meet. I cannot imagine what it would have been like being raised in a house where animosity and acrimony reigned, rather than the loving home in which I was nurtured.
As I write this on the morning of Election Day and reflect about my upbringing, I think that is the essential and underlying difference between the candidates of the two major parties one of whom we will elect to the presidency today. It is reflected in their campaigns and more importantly in who they are as people.
On the one hand I see a man who was raised in a caring environment in much the same way that I was. Obviously, I can relate to that and to him. It does not surprise me that in rearing his own family he has offered them the love and nurturing that he himself received.
On the other hand, I see a man whose parents were divorced when he was at an early age and who was shuttled off to surrogate parents for his rearing. I imagine that took a toll on his sense of self-worth and facilitated a need to overbuild his ego to compensate for this neglect.
On the one hand I see a man who realizes that the only way we can move forward as a community and a country is by doing what he believes is right, not just for those members of some specific interest groups, but for all of us.
On the other hand I see a man who has spent four years trying to separate us with his rhetoric of divisiveness, pitting one segment of the population against another.
On the one hand, I see a man who has enough love for his fellow man’s intelligence to believe that the individual should determine her own destiny.
On the other hand, I see a man who hates his fellow man’s lack of intelligence and believes that only the “state” is wise enough to determine what is best for each of us.
On the one hand, I see a man who believes that a vote for him is a proclamation that we can set this country America, in which we are all privileged to be citizens, back on the right course to prosperity for all.
On the other hand, I see a man who says voters should express their anger and “vote for revenge.”
Perhaps the poet, Virgil was right. “Omnia vincit amor.” “Love conquers all.” But it doesn’t always accomplish its mission in a heartbeat or the blink of an eye.
We know from history that hate often extends its evil hands upon us with brutality, and tries its best to squeeze the love out of us with threats and with violence. It takes a brave soul to hold on to principle when it is in the grip of terror.
We saw the ugly manifestation of hatred in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. We saw how Hitler polarized the German people, dividing them and pointing to the Jews as the reason for their economic troubles. And when he had sung the dirge loudly and often enough, we saw the trains begin to fill up with the “enemies of the state” as he began shipping them off to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Belzec and Treblinka to meet their deaths.
And those who were not affected were silent – and perhaps grateful that it was someone else’s fate and not theirs which the state had determined. And in that silence, men and women of conscience writhed in agony, knowing that not acting or speaking out was cowardly and an act of tacit hatred.
There are too many such examples of hatred in our brief history on this planet. But we have also seen that such leaders and countries which ensconce them do not last for long, because anything built on a foundation of hatred is doomed from its very inception.
It is fortunate that we have examples as well of those who have selflessly given themselves to a good and just cause and whose motivations were guided by love.
We need look no further than to those who founded America and wrote a Constitution which, to the best of their ability and the circumstances of the times, was inclusive and which deemed the individual to be the building block on which the entire structure depended.
They wrote us an inscription which extolled personal responsibility and which offered us the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And what could be more loving than to acknowledge each of our entitlement to those three?
As I reflect on the rhetoric of the campaign and listen to the pundits describe “what the issues are that will determine the outcome” I have heard that, “It’s the economy or that it’s social issues.” But to me this election is about whether we want to embrace either love or hate as our guiding light in going forward.
As the old knight said in, “Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail” when the Nazi collaborator entered the Grail Chamber with all the possible vessels which might be the real Cup of Christ, “Choose wisely.”
He didn’t. It is with love that I say, I hope we make a better choice than he.