Many years ago, when I was a brand-new post grad-school hire at a highly respected aeropace company that was still headquartered in Seattle... I was responsible for researching and making recommendations on the new company badge design to take advantage of emerging bar code and mag stripe capability (yes, it was that long ago.)
I was interviewing an executive involved in physical plant protection about system requirements, when one of the company employees came running in with an emergent situation of an individual who appeared armed and was running the guard gate at one of the classified facilities. The security force had apprehended the individual who turned out to be female, and had removed her from the vehicle, and had her face-to-the-fence with arms and legs extended. The crisis precipitated when they determined that she was, in fact, not armed. They were asking for next steps in this touchy situation.
And, as I sat there, watching and listening, this executive for whom I held great respect (and still do) said:
"Did you at least 'cop a feel?'"
As I remember that particular event, I am struck by two things: that I remember it so vividly, even the smell of the aviation gas that permeated the flight apron at Boeing field and our office, and, I am struck by the sick knot it makes in my stomach, even today. I am not a victim of it - I am stronger for it.
There is something deeply dehumanizing and objectifying about the language that was used that day. And I think that these days, we are all reacting to recent news of powerful people who speak so casually, without recognizing the power of their words to harm others.
In the Creation narrative, Divine words spoke the whole world into existence. G-d spoke, and it was. Leap to today: our culture is immersed in verbal violence and we all feel the wound of it. All of us need to recognize that this is the power of language, and to learn to be outrageously counter cultural in the way we use our language with one another.
The corollary to this is that our thoughts guide our destiny. It has been said, "Sow a thought, reap an action, sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap your destiny." My favorite mantra these days is: "Where the energy flows, the body goes." Even the words of Yeshua tell us that our thoughts are the pathway to actions when he warns us not to look on women with lust in our hearts - such an action leads to behaviors with devastating consequences.
And so, here we are, verklempt, because we have leadership choices whose energy and words are flowing in ways that WE DO NOT WANT TO GO. We are a people who want to care for the widowed and the orphaned, to be a voice for those destined to destruction, to care for prisoners and the destitute. To clothe the naked and feed the hungry. And, above all, to be in relationship to G-d and to love one another as we love ourselves.
When we wake up from this cat 5 hurricane of an election season, we will have one another. We will still have mouths to feed and people to clothe and homeless to shelter. That is our priority. Let's not destroy our relationships with one another in the tsuris that is upon us in this election. We will look back on this season with memories and with knots in our stomachs, but we will carry on and, my belief is, we will be stronger for it.
Carry on, and shalom y'all.