When I am facilitating a Mussar group, I generally make a rule to leave politics at the door. At the same time, however, Mussar is a practice for living in the real world. We cannot and should not separate our quest to be a Mensch from political action and social justice. Indeed, I can’t imagine a Mensch allowing injustice to flourish unchallenged, or not living up to their duty to vote.
This is especially on my mind as the California primary will take place next week. I realized I could not wait for other states to narrow the field. So, I made time to watch the Nevada debate, and came out very enthusiastic about my top choice – so enthusiastic in fact that I volunteered to canvas for them over the weekend.
An interesting phenomena came up in the training. They warned us that people seemed to be worried about wasting their vote, almost wishing they had fewer choices. Or they liked our candidate, but were worried they might not win in November. Part of our job was to give them permission to pick our person if that is who they liked.
Here are three soul traits, with mussar lessons for super Tuesday and beyond this election season.
1. Humility: Humility is about occupying your proper place in the world. While we only play a small part in the universe, we do have a part to play. If you are a citizen of the United States, your proper place is to vote. I just watched a wonderful mini-series about George Washington, and gained an appreciation of how different our system of self government was from anything that existed prior in the world. This is not the time to get caught up in “my vote doesn’t count,” or go looking for other people to tell us what to do. This is the time to step up, investigate, and make the best decision we can make today.
2. Trust: Trust is a great cure for worry. Don’t worry about making a mistake with your vote, especially this early. As much as everyone want to pick the one who can win, we don’t know who that is. Believe me, the pundits don’t know any more than we do. The one with the best chance to win is the one who gets the most votes during the primaries. Don’t believe me? Look at the 2016 election.
Another important part of Trust is recognizing that you cannot predict the future. Your candidate may not win the primary in your state, but could get enough delegates to fight another day. They might win the state but not get the nomination. They may be fifth, and end up getting picked as the VP. Or they may win the nomination and lose in the general election. Or they may win the whole enchilada. You have no idea what will happen. Your vote makes a statement of your values, which could influence whomever does get the nomination in the end. You are invited to Trust the process, and pick the person who you think can do the best job.
3. Enthusiasm, which covers both starting tasks and finishing tasks. It is also known as Alacrity. As Alan Morinis wrote. Enthusiasm is about “Just Do It.” As much as possible, we want to approach life with energy and focus. And when we don’t feel it, we fake it until we make it. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all of it and everything that is going, find a way to channel that energy into action. Read fewer news articles, and volunteer for a campaign instead. You can write letters, make phone calls from your home, or go door to door.
Finally, I realized that California moved it’s primary earlier so we could have a real say in a parties nominating process. Whether I agree or disagree with this decision is immaterial. That wasn’t my call, so now I need to take the appropriate action to participate as best I can.
Want to see your balance in Humility, Trust, Enthusiasm and 10 other soul traits? Take the Soul Trait Quiz now.