“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
It seems to be increasingly popular these past few months to grow less hopeful, more cynical, and angrier. Whenever I listen to or read the news, whether it is from the local network or one of the major newspapers, the most highlighted (and e-mailed) stories are those which emphasize how short we have fallen of achieving our hopes.
It doesn't seem to matter whether the source is CNN, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, or even our little Davis Enterprise. The message, unfortunately, is consistent: When we voted in November 2008, we signed up for an economic turnaround, a return to a balanced budget, health care reform, the end to two wars, and lower unemployment, which we have failed to achieve to the degree to which many seem to believe we are entitled.
As we approach mid-term elections, incumbents everywhere are feeling the anxiety of this summer's discontent and with good reason. Obstructionist bi-partisanship, petty divisiveness, and the preference to lobbyists as opposed to the people's interests make incumbents the obvious target. Grass-roots campaigns to protect legislative majorities and embattled seats flood my e-mail inbox daily.
The toughest thing for me is that I am no longer in a position to be able to support candidates I believe in the way I once was able. I have not worked most of this year, and my husband works for the State of California and was once again rewarded for his efforts with a 15% reduction in pay through furloughs.
We are not starving, and we are still able to meet our financial obligations. Many people I know cannot. Therefore when I see unqualified candidates grabbing headlines and people pouring Wall Street or oil company profits into campaigns while I am unable to send $10 to any of the grass-roots campaigns whose pleas fill my inbox, I am both grateful for my blessings but fearful that this election cycle could result in the return to power of those ideologues whose loyalty to big business and deep pockets got us here to begin with.
The only way to hope is to keep our focus on the true sources of hope. Hope in the love of our families, through knowing we will continue to lift each other up in times of challenge. Our friends, who bear with us as we struggle and share our stories. And infinite hope, as we remember that the birds of the sky and lilies of the field are infinitely more glorious than all the elections money can buy.
So as we move through this season, knowing that on November 2 votes will be cast all over the country, I just hope that all of those folks who feel despair now remember that hope belongs to all of us, not to just a candidate or a party. Futures are decided by people who hope enough to show up at the polls, who hope enough to make sure that qualified, thoughtful, responsible candidates are elected.
Get out there and hope.