Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My Last Rotary Invocation of the Year

Today at our Indianapolis Rotary Club weekly luncheon we had an election wrap-up. Republican and Democrat political consultants presented their opinions about what happened and why.

My invocation brought attention to the divisive climate of the election and challenged future candidates to observe the Rotary 4 Way Test.

United We Stand 
In the recent election, Americans demonstrated, in undeniable terms, just how polarized we have become as a society. We seem to be getting the best elections money can buy – at least from the perspective of advertisers.
Benjamin Franklin said: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”  He was worried about the threat of retaliation from the British for the acts of Independence of the Colonies. I am worried about the driver who sees a Trump or Bernie sticker and sees red on the highway.  I’m worried about my neighbor not helping me blow my leaves or shovel my snow because I put a Punam Gill sign in my yard.
Where will this end?
Ben Sasse, Republican Senator of Nebraska, wrote a book called ‘Them’ which attempts to explain how we got here and how to heal. He was attacked by members of his own party! The press have been called Enemies of the People! Where we get our news and what we believe depends more on party affiliation now than the facts. Opinions have been weaponized.
And for that matter – how do you explain fact and fake to a fifth grader?
I was talking with a friend about this over the Thanksgiving holiday – at least most of us can still share dinner. (But it’s probably a good idea to avoid talking about anything in the news.)  He blames it on Facebook. I blame it on cable news. Maybe it’s Citizens United or the Russians? What seems obvious to me is that we have retreated from the public square. Today you can gorge yourself on a 24/7 diet of news curated to flame the fears of your prior beliefs and biases – fine tuned to your zip code.
And like with food, lacking variety in consumption leads to malnourishment.
That’s what makes what we are doing here today so important. Rotary is an abundant source of community in America. Something as simple as turning off the outside to share lunch with people we respect, as we share our views and try to understand those of others. Where we agree that Service above Self is a motto we can all agree on regardless of our politics.
These ladies will give us their expert opinion on what happened in the past election. But we need to tell the politicians enough is enough! We want them talk about each other like we do here are Rotary – govern their campaigns by the Four Way Test and, maybe this is asking too much – talk to us about their vision for Indiana and America, not just about the character flaws of their opponent.
Is that too much to ask?