There’s a story in yesterday’s papers about a young man from Georgia who drove to New York following the election and took his own life, despondent over the re-election of George Bush.
My grandmother would have referred to him as ‘a poor soul.’ There was more going on ‘down there, where the spirit meets the bone’ than a newspaper account could reveal. Still, the story captured my attention.
After both services this past Sunday I listened to stories from people in mourning–people who feel absolutely devastated about the election results.
The election map with all those red states is sobering to those of us who are deeply concerned about the direction our country is being taken by those in the driver’s seat: the war in Iraq is at the top of those concerns. We watch as the devastation gets worse every the day, with no end in sight. Thousands lie dead, but that, apparently, is not among the so-called moral concerns of those who kept Bush in office. Dead Americans are heroes; dead Iraqis aren’t even counted.
The top two on their list of so-called moral concerns is same-sex marriage and reproductive choice—even while they prattle about freedom. The idea that a woman should have control over her own life by controlling her own body is freedom that doesn’t fit; the idea that two men or two women want the same rights, privileges and respect as a heterosexual couple doesn’t fit into their notion of freedom.
The widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country didn’t make list of moral concerns expressed by the religious right, whose titular head is George W. Bush. He called Jesus his ‘favorite philosopher,’ but apparently doesn’t agree with all those things Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount—things that don’t fit into his scheme of things.
This great nation of ours was born out of the Enlightenment—the 18th century philosophical movement that ushered in the age of rationalism—the critical examination of previously accepted doctrines that must stand the test of reason. Our Unitarian Universalist faith is a child of the Enlightenment, delivered by our Founders, like Adams and Jefferson.
Gary Wills summarized it sharply last week when he said, “Bush’s victory signals the triumph of belief over fact.” It’s not only so-called religious belief that triumphed, but beliefs created by the spin meisters who turned the language inside out, Orwellian style, telling us that the war in Iraq is going great. It’s clearly a Vietnam-like disaster.
One of our Unitarian laymen, Adlai Stevenson, summarized it this way, “Who leads us is less important than what leads us.” We have important work to do in the days ahead. We need a period of mourning so that we can return to that work, together.