If ever there was a season for progressive-hearted people to urge their friends and neighbors to vote, this would be it.
Ritual is one powerful way to help each other make and keep the commitment to vote. Ask your friend: “With which hand will you vote in the upcoming election?” With both of your hands, clasp that hand, close your eyes, and say: “May the love of God guide your hand to vote for the common good. Amen!” If you just happen to have a little bottle of Josie Maran pure organic argan oil or some other light oil in your handbag, rub a drop on the back of your friend’s hand as you give the blessing. (Full disclosure: Josie is my stepdaughter.) Alternative wording for the non-theistic: “May love guide your hand to vote for the common good.”
This simple ceremony gets the recipient of the blessing to make not just a verbal commitment, but a physical one. There is strong evidence from social psychology of the efficacy of this kind of practice. The ritual also makes voting a matter of the heart. In the midst of an electoral season of breathtakingly crude behavior and rhetoric, this simple ritual – which can be performed anywhere – redefines voting as an act of love for one’s neighbors, near and far. It casts voting as an act of faith, an expression of the soul and the spirit. And by the way, rubbing oil on the back of the hand feels really good!
It is my hope that this little ritual will spread far and wide, happening in private and public settings, including churches and temples, everywhere. I hope that people will do it spontaneously with their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. It will have its public debut in – where else? – Hollywood, on May 22 in 10:30 worship at Mt Hollywood Congregational UCC Church. That same day, 3-5 pm, it will be performed in a free public event called VOTING AS AN ACT OF FAITH, hosted by Progressive Christians Uniting, at First United Methodist Church in Pasadena. The template for the ritual as it can be performed in houses of worship is in our new PCU book which I edited, DEEPER LOVE. Stay tuned here for an upcoming video of the ceremony.
A “blessing of the ballot” ceremony for individuals, at the polls or after filling out an absentee ballot at home:
Repeat this prayer, silently or aloud, after voting: “I thank God for all Americans who risked their lives defending my sacred right and duty to vote.” Then imagine saluting the ballot box, or saluting your ballot when you put it in the mail. As you salute, imagine the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the signing of the Constitution. Imagine the joy of southern slaves upon learning of their emancipation. Imagine the joy of women when they won their long fight for the vote. Imagine civil rights activists registering voters under threat from the KKK. Imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. saying “I have a dream!” at the march on Washington.