Submitted by Rabbi Arthur Waskow on
Dear friends, as we begin once again to meet with care in public places, as it becomes possible once again for the American people to see each others’ faces and touch each others’ shoulders, to hear each others’ songs and see each others’ posters of joy and warning, now the streets once more can become a forum of democracy, along with the email and the Zoom, the letter to a Congressperson and the ballot box.
High time! For we face two intertwined historic crises, which cry out in all these venues for democratic creativity and vigor.
The first is a crisis calling into question the future of American democracy.
The second calls into question the future of the web of life on Planet Earth.
The two are intertwined because the greatest dangers to the web of life are giant corporations that blind themselves for the sake of hyper profits to the burning, flooding, freezing, choking, of the planet that is our common home. Their anti-democratic power is entrenched in the governmental structures of our country, and our country holds the most portent and power for the future of our planet.
When the American people saw the possible future in the face of a would-be fascist, by a majority of seven million votes we voted NO, and tentative YES to a more just, more democratic, more Earth-responsive future. But the entrenched past of anti-democratic political structures (e.g. the US Senate, gerrymandered state legislatures, a stolen Supreme Court) has brought us to a hostile 50-50 split in real political power.
Add it all up, and it means that --
if democratic decision-making threatens the Carbon Pharaohs who endanger the planet and human civilization;
if democratic decision-making would end poverty for the million US children who live in despair;
if democratic decision-making would meet the need of a hundred million American women to choose birth control and abortion;
if democratic decision-making would end the lethal disparity in not only property but also length of life and degree of health between Black and white Americans;
then certain politicians and the Hyper-Rich behind them would rather abolish democracy than lose their own perks and powers. (In the cases of subordinating women and the LGBTQ communities, this comes more from the all-male monopoly control of two very large religious communities with a deeply mistaken and self-serving biblical theology, than from the corporations.)
In about half the states, legislatures are ready to pass anti-vote laws that they hope will turn the 2022 and 2024 elections to anti-democratic results. That effort could have been reversed by abolishing the Senatorial filibuster, at least in regard to voting-rights bills, and passing at least two such bills. But with a Senate balanced on a hair, Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) has now made it very hard – 99.44% impossible – to end the filibuster or pass a voting-rights bill of any consequence.
So let’s be honest: We have a very hard job to save both democracy and Earth. Almost the only conceivable way to win a pro-Green, pro-democracy Congress in 2022 is to turn out such a strong pro-Green, pro-Black/ Latinx/ Indigenous/ Asian/ Muslim, pro-Woman / LGBTQ vote that the voter suppression system is overwhelmed.
The Green values would include support for universal transformation to renewable energy and millions of well-paying jobs, solar co-ops, urban farms, restorative agriculture, and Resilience Centers everywhere in America.
Part of doing that might be unconventional but both politically and ethically important: grants directing money for solar co-ops to financially and psychologically marginalized rural and small-town voters as well as such neighborhoods in big cities.
Even if pro-Green, pro-Black, pro-Woman laws cannot be passed before November 2022, the struggle for them should be clear and strong
In the Jewish community, there are three remaining holy days this year for Jews to “Green and Grow the Vote” in preparation for 2022. (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can be times for rabbinic sermons on healing Earth and saving democracy, but probably not for public activism.)
Tisha B’Av (evening Saturday July 17 to evening Sunday July 18), when we traditionally mourn the destruction of ancient Temples and have in recent years turned to lamenting the wounding of Temple Earth.
Sukkot (evening Monday September 20 to evening Monday Sept 27), the harvest festival that is traditionally celebrated on behalf of abundance for the “seventy nations” of the world, that honors a leafy, leaky hut that is open to our Mother Earth, that honors four species of trees and fruit by ceremonially waving them in the seven directions of the world, and that prays for the Breath of Life to save us all from deadly plagues, plastics, and poisons.
Hanukkah (evening Sunday November 26 to evening Monday December 6), when we kindle candles to bring light in a time of darkness, honor energy conservation and renewable energy (olive oil for lighting the Menorah that meets eight days’ sacred needs with one day’s oil), and yearn for the day that the Prophet Zechariah envisions when two olive trees will take a newly sacred place in our Holy Space.
All three of these sacred times could become times for Jewish visits and challenges to Senators and Congressmembers who are resisting changes that already have majority support from the American people.
During the next week we will start supplying you with materials to use for Tisha B’Av and Sukkot.
And now we need to ask for YOUR HELP so that we can do this work quickly and well. Wewant to engage liturgists, song-writers, illustrators who include and go beyond our own staff and Board to make this happen. Doing this will take money. We ask you urgently to join with us in this effort. Please click on the maroon “Contribute” banner just below, and please make a contribution that befits both the emergency we face and the transformations we can achieve.
Shalom, salaam, paz, peace, namaste! -- Arthur