“Where was our energy, our passion, our engagement for what was right in front of us?”

Dear Neighbor,

Years ago, my Unitarian Universalist (UU) church had a visiting minister from another congregation in our community and he brought his choir to perform several selections as an addition to his message from the pulpit. I couldn’t tell you what the minister’s sermon was about, however I will never forget his question after hearing our lackluster hymn that followed his choir’s rousing performance. “Do you folks have constipation of the soul?” he thundered with a disarming grin.

Where was our energy, our passion, our engagement for what was right in front of us?

Were we the epitome of the old joke — “Why can’t UUs sing? — (punch line)…they’re too busy reading ahead to see if they agree.” Were we ignoring an opportunity to take soulful action, to attempt to live authentically and with purpose? How often do we find that we are “reading ahead” in today’s political climate in order to avoid speaking out loud about realities that are as obvious as singing the hymn in front of you?

Constipation of any sort is inhibiting. This coming year is a time to take action rather than overthinking a situation, speculating or supplying answers to issues that only exist in our heads. Think about someone under 16 that you care about who could be affected in future years by what you chose to ignore in 2024. Consider picking, at a minimum, one issue, one organization or one candidate to actively support before the primaries in March. There really is something for everyone this election cycle, whatever your income or your time allocation.

Once you identify the causes and candidates that are important to you, make it a priority to reach beyond entertainment news, breaking news and social media and find sources that provide a deeper dive into factual information that provides answers to your questions. Study voting records and/or policy platforms to decide where to cast your support.

Voting is your final action during an election year and it is important to take other avenues sooner rather than later. Action can be as basic as talking to people you know about issues, volunteering your time for a campaign or making a donation. Share factual information and check yourself on everything you post on social media for truthfulness. Now more than ever, former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s words ring true — “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Too many need to be reminded that a lie is not the other side of an argument.

As someone who is politically active, I am sometimes asked if I’m not hesitant or even afraid to participate in today’s divisive climate. My response — I read the Diary of Anne Frank when I was 10 and always wondered if I would have the courage to do something if faced with difficult decisions about my values. And you know what? I am doing something at a time I believe is pivotal in our country and also for my grandchildren in the years ahead.

Choosing to do nothing is a concrete decision that has consequences. We may not be able to change the past but we can shape the future by taking deliberate actions before we cast our vote to ensure our country remains a democratic republic. The results of the 2024 election will be reflected in our immediate future and the future of our continuing freedoms as Americans. It is a time to sing with engaged intent. “

Dear Neighbor” authors are united in a belief that civility and passion can coexist. We believe curiosity and conversation make us a better community.

Pam Bloom