As the year 5773 comes into view, arriving this coming Sunday night, I’d like to wish all of you a year filled with peace, health, prosperity and joy.
Four years ago, Barack Obama excited huge numbers of Americans, precipitating an emotional reaction among many. Media swooning and malfeasance meant that most Americans were never exposed to the the man’s history or his principles. Even those who would have voted for him if they knew his beliefs and goals weren’t given the opportunity to do so. As for those of us who were not swept away by his aura, we wished that we too, could have a candidate whose very being would rouse America’s enthusiasm.
This year, neither candidate is eliciting such passion. It is better that way. A larger than life candidate can fool us into thinking that electing him to office will fix what is awry and secure an optimistic future. When we are swept away in teenybopper rapture, we happily shrug off responsibility for our own lives, anticipating that the elected one will do the hard work while we reap the benefits.
Four years after the last election, the Obama glow is gone. However, it is not only in politics that we live in a period of disillusionment. Within my own Jewish world, there are pathologies that surely cause God to weep, both by those who clearly reject Him and by those who present themselves as His devotees. In the world at large, hatred of Israel and the Jewish people is emerging in whopping force (this is not at all disconnected from the pathologies mentioned - God very clearly links our fate as a people to our behavior). Other faiths face similar challenges and false faiths and ‘isms’ abound. Rejection of God and His directions reaches into every facet of life. The culture bombards our children with damaging messages, stripping them of the optimism and innocence that should be a child’s birthright. America faces great peril from a values vacuum, one sign of which is an economic downturn. The sliver that divides a functioning, healthy society from one in free-fall is fast becoming ever thinner.
I will vote for Mr. Romney and I pray that he wins. The stakes in this election are too great for anything but choosing whichever of the two major party choices best, rather than perfectly, points the way to a positive future. Nevertheless, the very fact that I am far from enamored reminds me that for this country to regain her greatness the mercy of God rather than human leadership is the crucial factor. We certainly have to do our part as involved citizens, but, when all is said and done, we are not in control. Certainly, voting is important as is being supportive of chosen campaigns, but all those running for office can do nothing without God’s acquiescence and can attain excellence only with it. Free choice means that God will not overtly intervene (except on glorious, rare occasions) to save us from ourselves. Along with civic involvement, the most important thing I can do is to inspect my own actions and find ways to correct my own behavior. Millions of citizens combining prayer with self-improvement can have a more powerful effect than a million dollar ad campaign. Rather than expecting great leaders to save the American people, the American people need to work and change to deserve great leaders.