As I write this, it’s Friday morning, June 28th – the morning after the first Presidential debate of the momentous 2024 election. It’s not a good morning for those of us deeply concerned about democracy and the health of the US system of governance. But you are likely reading this on or around July 4th, when we take the time to celebrate American values, in their most aspirational form. This year, that celebration is more important than ever.

Elections are not about any one candidate. They are often deeply flawed expressions of our hopes and vision of who we are as a people, a praxis that tries to bridge the gap between our theories and the very real law-making and work to which politics leads. 

People have faced difficult times throughout history. We are not alone in our struggles, although it often feels to us living through them as though they are more existential than ever. 

In times such as these, it’s important to not merely look outward – for example, at candidates – but rather, inward. What are your core values? What are your responsibilities to the whole – to your community, to your country? How can they best be practiced in times like these? What do you serve? What feeds your courage, and sustains your hope? How will you live so as to make those values real in your actions and choices?

Those of us lucky enough to live in North Carolina not only have the fortune of living in an exquisitely beautiful place, but we have unique political potency. Unlike what I could accomplish in deep blue New York, for example, I am profoundly aware of the greater impact of my vote and my participation in North Carolina, a state that needs people who will vote for the values so well expressed by our Unitarian Universalist faith. 

If you want to make a difference, now is the time. Our UU the Vote work is ongoing – contact Joanne Fox to get involved through the congregation, or visit uuthevote.org. Get in touch with your neighborhood precinct. Love. Serve. Act. If you’re concerned about autocracy here, see my American autocracy resource center: American Autocracy Resources

The late John Lewis saw some hard times, and yet he spent his life in service. Let us always keep in front of us his advice: 

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

With love,

Rev. Audette