Thoughts on Voting as a Spiritual Activity

Nov 07 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

First off, I am not a spiritual person. Never really have been. But, I have many spiritual friends who try and reach out to me and help me see what I am missing. I am not sure about that either. But, from one such friend (who is part of a interfaith get-out-the-vote group...)

A reflection from Dr. Mel Scult (biographer of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan) on the spiritual meaning of voting as well as other ways of participating in the democratic process in our country: Dr. Scult writes, “Democracy for Kaplan meant far more than majority rule, but rather a whole culture built on the encouragement of certain values and certain kinds of behavior which were basic to an ethical life. . . Democracy, therefore, was no mere political system; it was a way of life that, if successful, penetrated the inner core of one’s being, one’s entire consciousness.” One of the ways that Kaplan applied this idea was to compose a prayer book that addressed all of the holidays of the American civic calendar, including Election Day. For him it was critical that we understand walking into a voting booth as a sacred act.

This friend also sent along a prayer for voting. While this friend is one of our Jewish brothers and sisters, I believe it will work for our siblings of other faiths. Whether I believe in anything is aside from the point. What I do find is the alt-right's deathgrip on religiousity to be irritating at best, and ugly at worst. Thus, for all my brothers and sisters and siblings of indeterminate gender, I share this with you:

May it be Your will, at this season of our election, to guide us towards peace.

By voting, we commit to being full members of society, to accepting our individual responsibility for the good of the whole. May we place over ourselves officials in all our gates…who will judge the people with righteousness (Deut 16:18), and may we all merit to be counted among those who work faithfully for the public good.

Open our eyes to see the image of God in all candidates and elected officials, and may they see the image of God in all citizens of the earth.

Grant us the courage to fulfill the mitzvah of loving our neighbors as ourselves, and place in our hearts the wisdom to understand those who do not share our views.

As we pray on the High Holidays, “May we become a united society, fulfilling the divine purpose with a whole heart.”

And as the Psalmist sang, “May there be shalom within your walls, peace in your strongholds. For the sake of my brothers and sisters and friends, I will speak peace to you.” (Ps. 122:7-8)

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