May 2, 2016
I can’t believe I’m giving the invocation on Primary Day 2016 during what will be remembered as one of the most notorious campaign seasons of the 21st Century! At least, I hope it stands out – because I never want it to happen again!
Here’s what I think is worth talking about in an invocation on a day like today: shared hope – or what politicians would call the ‘hope gap.’
We may have entered a time in our nation’s history when nothing is shared less than hope. You hear about income inequality. You hear about immigration. You hear about terrorism. You hear about resurgent racism, international tensions, exploding debt, and economic uncertainty. We witness unprecedented dysfunction in Washington. What is the link between these maladies?
I believe we are suffering from the lack of shared hope and too many of us have lost confidence in the belief that for them tomorrow will be better.
Have we forgotten that to be hopeful is uniquely human? Do we not all hope for peace? For the success of our children? To be treated with respect? For health and prosperity? Can’t we at least share those hopes?
More than losing our status in the world, more than ‘losing,’ more than the other party winning the Whitehouse, we should fear the loss of shared hope. Shared hope is the binding that once tied our country together, forged a powerful nation and was the source of our prosperity.
Being an American endows us with a special kind of hopefulness. The ability to work together, to overcome problems, to look beyond differences and to see a brighter future. The measure of America’s greatness will not be in a budget or trade surplus, or military power – it will be in the ability of all Americans to hope again.
How do we do that? Turn off the TV. Surround yourself with optimists and push back on negative talk when you hear it. Be prepared with positive facts - look for positive news and you’ll find it. Allow inspiration into your life – from wherever you can find it; whether it’s a purposeful walk in the woods or a raucous service on Sunday morning.
Be an actor not an audience member. Practice Service above self – Rotary is a great way to share hopefulness. Hope is a source of strength that is multiplied when shared. Share your hope with someone when you have it – share theirs when you don’t.
The hope gap may be a tool politicians use to sell fear and mistrust. Don’t buy it. Find someone to share your hopes and dreams with today.