Loving and voting rarely make it into the same sentence, especially now when what I love would most likely apply only to loving to see the other side lose. But what we love must be in the heart of that circle we fill in on our ballot. To do otherwise is to waste a moment when we actually get to stand up and make a statement about ‘who I am,’ and stake our claim that what we hold in our hearts is worth our vote.
These days you and I have to tolerate the babel we are bombarded with, outrageous lies, pandering tweets and laughably false claims. Disparaging those half-wits ‘over there’ while celebrating the ‘patriots’ aligned with me is not normal discourse. Verbal attacks on a person’s integrity, questioning their mental state, repeating flagrant lies so often the liar believes them to be true is not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, and it exacts a toll we may not have the resilience to overcome. 14th century literature can open our eyes to the gravity of our predicament.
In The Inferno, several names are used to refer to the devil, each one designed to convey the horror and power he exercises. Lucifer and Satan are two, but most telling for us in this moment is Dis, another name Dante uses for the devil. Dis is clearly portrayed by Dante as the originator and overseer of eternal relegation to the ninth circle of Hades –– to isolation.
And just in case this character Dis might seem unfamiliar or archaic, he is wandering freely among us these days –– disrespect, disown, disdain, dismiss, disease and distrust to name a few we are relentlessly subjected to. As The Inferno paints it so chillingly, all this ‘dis’ leads to an isolation that destroys individuals, and brings about an unraveling our nation seems incapable of restraining.
This environment we are mired in at the moment is defined by dis, damaging to our soul, shattering to our country and its institutions, and must be met with the one response no one has yet seemed to have tried –– love.
“Love by itself obviously is not enough, but we need love. I’m not talking about love as a sentiment, but love as a personal and moral commitment to a particular way of living, a way of living that is unselfish, even sacrificial. A way of living that seeks the good and the welfare and the well being of others, as well as the self.”
\ Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church
I know this sounds saccharine to the point of nausea, but let me explain. ‘Those idiots,’ no matter whom I or you may say they are, are all we have. Assuredly I am ‘one of those idiots’ in the minds of many, and just as they are my best, last hope, I am theirs as well. It may be out of reach to love an ‘other,’ but it is well within reach to act out of love for the values and beliefs I hold in my heart. Can I resist all my inclinations to ‘dis’ some one or some thing, and instead empower my vote with the wisdom of my heart?
What is it I hold there? Where does my love land? I love family. So how does the recipient of my vote enable my family, and yours, to thrive? If it is only mine that benefits, then what about all those ‘others’ who love their family just like I do, love their children, their elders and their histories? Those ‘others’ who love providing home, who work to ensure their children have food on the table, shoes on their feet and a chance to succeed? I love people who work hard, the fruits of whose labor hold out the possibility of an ‘us’ brought a little closer in the ‘we’ of working together. On an assembly line, in the classroom, or on a construction site there is no blue or red, there is no room for dis to act out. There is no dis in family, no dis in mutuality, only ‘us.’ And isolation is not possible when we reclaim the ‘we’.
So I propose that come November 3rd, forget all those disrespects and disdains and dismisses, and vote for the candidate who most closely aligns not with fear, but with love.