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Robert Rabbin: Voting Our Values

Voting Our Values

by Robert Rabbin

"Being an activist is the rent we pay for being on the planet." - Alice Walker

Many things in our country are bent and breaking, if not already broken, and I don't like it. The simple truth is that I am pissed off. Millions of people are suffering, hungry, and hopeless, living in mean and fearful places where people should not live. Twelve million children live in poverty, 43 million people are without health insurance, and only one in seven working poor families having access to affordable childcare. Militarism is our most popular religion, and political corruption and corporate greed are epidemic. The Earth herself is under murderous attack, leaving animals, forests, oceans, rivers, and skies all pleading for relief. The average CEO makes in one day what the average worker makes in one year, and 10% of the people own more than 70% of the wealth. Civil and labor rights are being hunted to extinction. The Pentagon gobbles up more than $400 billion a year: 51% of the annual discretionary budget. I think our world has become koyaanisqatsi, a Hopi word meaning "crazy life, life out of balance, life in turmoil, life disintegrating; a state of life that calls for another way of living."

If ever there was a time to get involved, speak up, and be counted-it is now. We cannot be complacent or apathetic. We must not be silent about our country's koyaanisqatsi culture. This is the year to bring the beauty of our hearts and souls into the world in real and telling ways. We cannot hide from this world, nor escape it, nor transcend it. We must embrace it and love it and beautify it. The world is begging to be healed of violence, brutality, and greed. The world is asking to be cured with clarity, stillness, insight, strength, kindness, tolerance, patience, empathy, authenticity, simplicity, and courage. It is time for us to beautify the world with these values and qualities of conscience.

Sixty-five million people in the U.S. share these core values and deep concerns about the state of the world. We are the cultural creatives described by sociologist Paul Ray. Our priorities, choices, and commitments are defined by our strong support of human rights and social justice, ethical business practices and fair trade, the environment and sustainability, organic foods and holistic health, and spiritual development.

We are united not by ideology or fear, not by political or religious affiliation, not by race or social status, but by an appreciation of a deeply felt awareness of the universal longings of the human heart and spirit for wisdom and peace, freedom and social justice, love and kindness. We are people of conscience who can become a potent political force for peace and justice, for dignity and freedom, for wisdom and compassion. If we accept personal and communal responsibility to transform society, we will do so. Like the poet Rumi said, "Take on a big project, like Noah."

If we open to the world, we will feel a lot of pain, even if it is not "ours." We will feel the violence and war, the despair and hopelessness, the poverty and hunger, the oppression and fear that are the daily bread of millions of our brothers and sisters. We have to work together to make this situation better. Things are truly unstable. We have to stabilize and beautify this world. And we can. It is within our reach and grasp. We cannot have inner freedom without freedom in the world. We cannot have inner peace without peace in the world. We cannot have love, or kindness, or joy if we do not actualize these qualities in the world.

Let us join together to recreate our world, to stabilize and sanctify it with our love, care, and attention. Let us act quickly, with confidence and determination.

This year, we will elect a president, an event of immense importance to us all. I want one who embodies our values. I want a president who will exemplify Mahatma Gandhi's politics of non-violence, Dr. Martin Luther King's moral courage, and former Czech president Václav Havel's visionary eloquence. I want a president committed to peace through peaceful means, to environmental purity, to civil liberty and labor rights, to equitable taxation and distribution of wealth, to affordable health care and quality education, to equal opportunity and right under the law-regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. I want a president who understands the spirit and law of the people, by the people, for the people.

I know you do, too. So we have to do two things. The first is to clarify and articulate our most sacred values in very specific and concrete terms, in ways that connect to our actual day-to-day living, in ways that are telling and demonstrative. Certainly those values will include peace, kindness, generosity, openness, tolerance, patience, respect, and reverence for all life. The second thing we have to do is find out whether this current president represents our values. If not, we must work diligently to elect another president. I can tell you this: the current president and his administration is a holocaust to our values. But don't take my word for it; do as the Buddha said, Be a light unto yourself. Find out. You will see that I am right. But find out.

And when you do, I know you will join me in voting for the Democratic nominee in 2004.


© 2004/Robert Rabbin/All rights reserved

Robert Rabbin is an author and speaker whose passion for radically engaged spiritual wisdom is expressed in his workshops, lectures, and column of social and political commentary. To contact Robert and for more information about his work, please visit

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