Around the country today people are going to the polls in this “off year” election cycle. Most contests are for statewide and municipal candidates. The Governor’s race in Virginia is seen as a bellwether for the direction our country is going.
I find it remarkable that the news pundits are casting this election as a race for our nation’s soul. Yes, there are some local races that do pit ideologies against one another but, for the most part, these elections are about citizens serving their fellow citizens. Despite the hype about Critical Race Theory being taught in our schools (which it is not), most of those elected officials who win will have to work with others who may not think like them. Then what happens? They work it out.
Many scholars now believe that cooperation diminishes and competition increases as group size grows. What this means for most of us is that within our local communities we are more adapted to cooperate than to compete. The larger the group, say at the state or national level, the more likely we are to compete.
This tendency (and it is only a tendency, not a universal law) means that at the end of the day most of us, when we are face-to-face, will want to get along. Not always, but more often than not. After all, if you have a fight with a neighbor how much energy do you want to expend staying angry? It’s more likely that you will work it out, or one of you will move before too long. We might not agree about everything, but we tend to agree on enough to remain civil.
I find local campaigns (such as school board seats) which appeal to fear and panic are driven more by a national agenda than local sensibilities. Most of us want what is best for our communities. Bear that in mind this and every Election Day as you greet the poll workers and cast your ballot. We may disagree about the issues and the candidates but we can still agree to treat one another with respect.
This is what it means to embrace our UU Fifth Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
This Sunday after our worship service we are invited to watch a film on residential segregation based on race and to participate in a brief discussion; following that there will be a town hall, wherein we will discuss options for changing the name of our congregation. I expect this to be a lively and civil conversation. After all, we are all part of this beloved community, whether we agree on everything or not.
See you in Church, Rev. John