It happened again last night, during an event at our synagogue.
“Joyce, do you really think America is ready to elect a gay president?” asked a friend. “You’re a realist, so you have to be thinking about that.”
I tried to mask my revulsion at the question. As we stood near the front of the chapel, the words engraved upon the wooden doors flanking the ark holding the Torah scrolls caught my eye. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” they commanded. Indeed, the commandment to love and welcome the stranger, the neighbor, a fellow human is one of the most revered tenets of not only Judaism, but of most of the world’s faith traditions.
I measured the words of my own response carefully, while focusing on the words upon the ark that implored me to say the following:
“Yes, I am a realist,” I told her. “And America is not only ready for Pete, but it is veritably starving for the highest caliber of leadership possible. That is Pete.”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” A summons to keep going.
I went on to tell her that our nation has become distorted, swollen with hate, and emaciated from the dearth of moral and ethical infusions of just, humane, principled policies — meted at the hands of cowardly, corrupt elected officials drunk on their own power. Then there’s Pete. Ethical, reasoned, focused, inclusive, compassionate, brilliant, brave, bold. Pete. A humanitarian, a lover of peace, a consensus-builder — a charismatic presence powerful enough to bring historically divergent groups together and get to “yes.”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” A call to reject all forms of hate and inhumanity. Keep talking, Joyce.
My friend, here’s what I believe America is NOT ready for: Four more nightmarish years of the alternative: More misogyny, xenophobia, bigotry, cowardice and narcissism. More hot fits of temper, flagrant lying, and monumental ignorance. A child playing with fire in a field flooded with oil.
America is ready for Pete. America needs Pete. And for G-d’s sake, friend, this realist deeply believes that the majority of Americans don’t care who he loves — but that he does love. And he DOES love every neighbor—black, brown, white, straight, gay, queer, trans, Christian, Jew, Islamic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist… I’ll leave a space here to add who you are. Because, friend, he will love you too.