As we mature, we are often better able to articulate our core spiritual values. Actualizing them, however, is a challenging and ever-evolving process.
If we believe in love, we are called to love not just our family and friends, but all with whom we share this world. Easier said than done, certainly.
If we assume an interconnectedness with all life, a wise stewardship of the earth’s resources will follow, as will compassionate and substantive assistance to those of our own species in need. But what form shall these intentions take?
If we recognize that other cultures and religions are comprised of good people like ourselves who simply reflect another facet of the Infinite, we will honor our differences. What, then, is the appropriate response when these differences lead to conflict?
Tough questions, to be sure, but difficulty does not excuse us from our task. Enacting our spiritual principles must ever be our goal.
Nowhere is this challenge more acute than in the political arena. In fact, the political process is often a contest of values and of competing proposals for how best to advance them.
When someone asks for our vote, we need to listen carefully to both what the candidate and their party says, and how they say it.
The specific policies and proposals are, of course, extremely important, as are critiques of the state of the nation and our place in the world. Only a portion of pre-election proposals come to fruition, however, and then often in a form different from what was originally proffered.
That is why, more and more, I listen specifically for how a candidate conveys his or her plan. The tenor of the rhetoric, the images invoked, the emotional quality conveyed all give me insight into temperament, closely held values, and an idea of how he or she will approach the issues that concern us most.
No one can know the specific challenges our elected leaders will face, for we live in uncertain times. The issues confronting us are enormous: financial instability, sociological shifts, political upheaval, climate change, poverty, and violence around the world.
While times of smooth sailing have been rare in human history, the increasing rapidity of current changes, combined with the shrinking of our world through increased population and technological advancements, makes ours an era of unprecedented challenge.
But it is also a time of great potential. Events have conspired in such a way that we are poised on the cusp of profound change, for good or for ill.
When Gandhi exhorted us to “be the change you want to see in the world”, he was urging us to demonstrate our spiritual principles in every facet of our lives.
I’ve continued over the years to clarify my core spiritual values, and have tried in my own imperfect and evolving way to live them. This year, I’ve also listened to the candidates for the Presidency.
There is one who stands out, one candidate who best reflects my principles, both in the what of his policies and the how of his rhetoric.
My choice this year has arisen naturally from who I am, and who I perceive the candidates to be. This year, I cast my vote with ease.
I cast it with hope, as well.