As a rabbi and spiritual mentor, it pains me greatly to see the current behavior and large divide and polarization of this magnificent country. What went wrong? And as a nation, where do we go from here? As I so often say, when there is an issue we must go back and revisit the roots. We must delve into our past, our foundations, in order to see the right way forward.
Since its founding in 1776, the timeless and noble foundation of the United States of America is the principle of E Pluribus Unum, from the many, one.
This nation is the first ever in history to be built on the universal principles that all men and women are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, which include freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, even if it’s a minority opinion. At the same time, what makes the country so unique is the balance between personal freedoms and the greater good. As diverse (pluribus) as we may be, we are also united as one (unum). Despite our individual viewpoints, we come together as one unified nation.
This challenging balance is upheld by our system of justice, ruled by law and order, in which everyone has a right to turn to for recourse. This is the only way to resolve a difference of opinions in a civil way, keeping intact and respecting the integrity of every individual while preserving the good of the whole. This fundamental respect for individual rights while standing united, includes how presidential elections are won, lost, and the appropriate way to express one’s grievance using the legal channels and the court of law. Therefore, while everyone has a right to peaceful protest, it is reckless behavior, whether coming from Republicans or Democrats, to attempt creating change outside of the established systems and legal infrastructure of our country. This undermines faith in our system and the institutions we ourselves put into place to govern us.
These kinds of decisions should not, and cannot be made in the streets but rather through the proper channels and courts of law.As far as the current demonstrations in Washington DC, the country held a presidential election, with President Biden coming out the winner. If anyone wishes to challenge that they need to turn to the courts — not to the masses, nor the media, nor social media — and present their evidence, allowing the impartial justice system to determine the issue on the merits.
This rule applies across the board and across both aisles. Just as those who were upset with the 2016 election of Donald Trump, could not simply rely on hearsay and conspiracy theories of Russian collusion, but required real and objective evidence, the same is now. The only way to challenge an election is not through unsubstantiated assertions, but by turning to the courts, and accepting the outcome whether you like it or not.
The success of this country depends on us all supporting these founding principles, acknowledging that we can express ourselves and our opinions while not undermining the legal system and structure. That is a dangerous road to tread.
As a rabbi and spiritual mentor, I call on all people, regardless of background, religion, race or political persuasion to use this upheaval as a wake up call. Let us all declare that we are all created equal, that E Pluribus Unum. Despite our differences, let us connect and unite like never before.
Let us remember that we are all the children of God and respect each other’s differences while appreciating that we are all part of one union.
Let us do everything in our power to not be part of the problem, but part of the solution. Reach out to your neighbor, to a stranger, extend a loving hand. Listen and respectfully agree to disagree if you have differing thoughts. We are all on the same team, we all want a prosperous, safe, progressive country where we can live in peace and harmony.
Together let us use this unprecedented time to create a pandemic of goodness, kindness and unity. The future is in our hands. How will we react?