Staying the Course

This month brings us a very important Presidential election, one that will have tremendous impact on the future not just of our nation, but the entire world.

Thanks to the Internet, modern communications technologies, and intercontinental transportation, we have the capacity to be more immediately aware of how interconnected and interdependent our world is. Choices made in the U.S. unquestionably have far-reaching effects. Unfortunately many in the U.S. seem unaware of this, and unaware of how our policies and choices can then rebound and negatively affect the U.S. The reasons for this cultural myopia are doubtless complex, but it seems to me that a deeply engrained isolationist attitude is part of the problem. Although the tragic events of September 11, 2001, provided the opportunity for us to wake up to the complexities, interdependencies, and needs of the global community in which we exist, U.S. policy since that time has been undertaken in a spirit of belligerent unilateralism. We are at greater peril as a result.

Like many Friends, I have been gravely concerned about the direction we’ve been heading. Deterioration of our relations with other nations and the steady erosion of civil liberties here in the U.S. have prompted me to engage in a level of political activism unusual for me. Connecting with others in my county and township through grassroots organizations that use the Internet to organize activist groups, I’ve worked raising money and awareness during the months leading into the upcoming election. Where I live, I’ve discovered that there is far more engagement by many people in the political process this year than there has been for a very long time.

These are good signs, which have felt encouraging, so I was surprised to learn in Tracy Moavero’s "Getting Quakers Out to Vote in 2004" (p.6) that we Friends are not registered to vote nor likely to vote in much higher numbers than the general population—that is to say, between 50 and 70 percent. Well, Friends, this would be the year to do better! Even if one has not registered to vote, it is possible to help others get to the polls on Election Day. The outcome of this national election certainly will have far-reaching effects—our course of action in Iraq; the possible reinstatement of the military draft; policies regarding national security and the rights of U.S. citizens; international relations (including imminent encounters with Korea and Iran); environmental policies, such as the very strong potential for armed conflict over natural resources like water—to name just a few. Because of this, it might well be the purview of every meeting’s Peace Committee to get voters to the polls.

Regardless of the outcome of Election Day, we have much work ahead of us. In the end, we are called to keep our sight fastened on that which is Eternal. Circumstances, personal and national, invariably will change and we may never know the outcome of our own efforts. But Love is the source and prime mover. If we stay centered in that awareness and let it be our guide, we will have stayed the course.