Many years ago, the Rev. Dr. Cornel West said, “I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” This sums up my feelings right now about the next few years. I cannot be an optimist – I am not here to tell you that everything will be OK, or that it is not as bad as it seems, because right now, we really don’t yet know what the next few years will look like – I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope. I will not let go of the hope that I have found in the fact that we are, miraculously, alive and together in the world. I will not let go of our hope for a more compassionate and sustainable world. I will not let go of our moral vision, which has a much larger scope than political vision. No single election has the power to define us, and no single election has the power to undo us.
So now is the time to gather ourselves, to organize ourselves for the long haul, to bring our gifts to the altar of the world.
Everyone has gifts to share during this time. What are yours? Are you good at facilitating a meeting? Can you lead us all in a song at a march? Do you take great notes? Perhaps you have a head for numbers, or a gift for throwing a party, or are a great cook. Maybe you have the financial resources to give some extra support to the causes that you champion. Maybe you struggle just to pay the rent, but you are able to host a phone bank when important legislation comes up for a vote.
Maybe you have the experience of a lifetime to share with the younger people who are just stepping into this work for the first time. Perhaps this is not your first rodeo, and maybe you are no longer marching in the street, but sending the marchers out with your blessings of wisdom and courage.
Perhaps meetings aren’t for you, but you are an excellent listener. The work of community, caring for one another throughout our life’s journey, this will continue, and will be needed more than ever. Sitting down with someone in the hospital, listening to them over a cup of coffee, this is also part of our work together.
Whatever it is that you are skilled at, whatever gifts you have that you can use to help bend the moral arc of the universe just a little closer to justice, now is the time to consider them, and to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
The sun has set on the election, but tomorrow the sun will rise, and we will still be here.
We will be here, holding the ground of love and justice no matter what.
We will be here, loving the world with a fierce determination that transcends the politics of the moment.
We will be here, affirming the worth and dignity of all people, affirming our interconnectedness, and refusing to allow hate and fear to take us down.
Rev. Julia Hamilton, Lead Minister
Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara