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Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing fiction, as well as the decisions I will be making about publication of my first novel One Summer in Arkansas. Thanks for your interest.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Michael Lerner in Praise of the American People

I discovered Rabbi Michael Lerner five years ago when he was promoting his book The Left Hand of God on NPR.  The book came out at a time when the Religious Right was in its ascendency and progressive churchgoers were silent.  Being suspicious of orthodoxy and drawn to contrarians who embrace ideas out of line with their own party, I subscribed to Lerner’s magazine Tikkun and have followed him ever since.

Lerner’s article “In Praise of the American People” is featured on the home page of today’s Huffington Post.

In his post-election analysis, Lerner makes the case that the Republican Party erred in its effort to rally its base against the “other” in our society (the immigrants, the gays, the big government freeloaders, the urban elitists), especially in light of the off-line acknowledgement that such “others” constituted 47% of the population.

At the same time, he rails against Left-wing religiophobia that assumes anyone who believes in God is intellectually stunted, pathologically in need of a father-figure or otherwise unenlightened.

Lerner’s take-away from the election is that the American people are not so locked into their personal financial self-interest as the pundits think.  Sure, we care about jobs and financial security.  But Lerner believes the longing for “a politics of meaning” is stronger than the politicians understand.

“Turns out that Americans, like everyone else on the planet,” says Lerner, “are willing to sacrifice material well-being to serve higher ethical goals, if they think others are willing to do the same.  They are just as hungry for a life, a social order, a family and a community that have some higher meaning…as they are for material economic security.”  

This is a truth about the American character that seems to have eluded the funders of Super-Pacs and the high-priced marketing experts who specialize in negative ads.

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