The Election: A Plea for Perspective

As I grow older I recall with increasing frequency many of the stories I first heard as a child.

I may have been seven or eight when Rabbi Avraham Soltes told the story at family Shabbat services of a King who wanted a signet ring with a motto engraved in it that would fit any occasion.

Many jewelers tried and failed to create such a ring until one-day a craftsman appeared at the palace with a design that contained three Hebrew letters: Gimel, (ג) Zayin (ז) and Yod (י).

In subsequent years, we have all heard – and likely quoted — the tag line but probably without the story.

When the king asked what this signified, the jeweler answered, “It is for the three Hebrew words, Gam Zeh Ya-avor – And this too shall pass.”

The rapidly approaching presidential election is a particularly good time to keep the king’s motto in mind. Why? One thing is very clear to me: 

That when the election results are in, nearly half of those who voted will be very disappointed.

Those who oppose either President Trump or former Vice-President Biden truly fear for the very future of our country if the one we do not favor wins the White House.

Whatever crisis you imagine will ensue if the “wrong” person to your mind is elected, I want to try to reassure you:  Gam zeh ya-avor –This too shall pass.

Maybe it is because I am getting older, but in all my years –since my mother took me to the polls where I could cast a mock vote (I liked IKE) in 1952, I have never heard doomsday rhetoric like I am hearing this election year.

I understand people are very concerned, and the intensity is no less whether it comes from those who fear a Trump or a Biden victory.

My plea is for a bit of perspective. 

 I have my own strong feelings about this election, and I urge each and every eligible individual to vote.  But no matter how the vote turns out, I do not believe the nation will topple if the “wrong” person is elected.

The American political system has a built in pendulum. It swings one way and then, as two hundred plus years of electoral history dating from 1788 teach us, the pendulum will swing back again. And so my plea is for perspective. Although nearly half of us will think that the election results are an unmitigated disaster, our Constitution will hold, our nation will endure, and as Rabbi Soltes taught me long ago:  Gam Zeh Ya-avor.

8 thoughts on “The Election: A Plea for Perspective

  1. Unfortunately, I think you’re viewing this as a normal election between people of differing viewpoints. It is not. It is the difference between having a democratic society and living under an evil dictatorship.

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  2. Thank you, Fran. My essay is a reaction to the line of reasoning you present. I obviously
    think it a mistake to think that we are at such a unique juncture of history that the very future of the Republic is at stake.

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  3. I appreciate your plea for perspective, Stephen.

    The knowledge that “…this too shall pass” is certainly important. For me, however, the issue lies more with what will become of us, and our country, once it does. I cannot say, with any certainty, that the physical underpinnings of our democracy would lay in ruins, but can almost guarantee that its emotional, mental, and moral would.

    A person can only take so much and, certainly, what defines that varies from heart to heart. Sadly, I have seen this too intimately through my own husband’s struggles, and those of my friends and family, to not be both alarmed and gutted by the deluge of indecency, dishonesty and divisiveness and the reprehensible pitting of American versus American, human versus human.

    Like you, I pray for both individual and collective perspective, yet, I am also keenly aware that perspective, when in an altered emotional/mental state, is a harrowing ask.

    May this all pass, Stephen, and may we be in tact, in our humanity, once it does.

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  4. Dani, I am so honored to have your wise comment appear as what we call in Hebrew a “Davar aher” a countervailing perspective. I do understand the pain and fear with which you, Renato and so many others live. We must do all we can to change things. But still I believe —perhaps with rose colored glasses — we will get through this.

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