As we enter the last two weeks of the 2016 US Presidential Election Campaign, many of us have already voted. Some will be away on November 8th and will vote (or have voted) by absentee ballot. Others voted in the early voting that is taking place in many states.

At the same time, I heard many people who are so discouraged with this election campaign, that they stated that they will “sit out this election” and choose not to vote. Many are so disheartened by the language, the bitterness, the rhetoric that seem to surround this election cycle. With increasing frequency, we are hearing comments and remarks such as the following: “Sadly, as much as I love my country, this election is draining me. Such hatred and foul-mouth posts flying around. It has caused nothing but negativity between people.”

Journalists are subject to vitriol, hate and threats from those who oppose their political positions. Friends are subject to hostility, anger and receiving the “cold shoulder” from friends who don’t share the same opinion or perspective. And so many are tired of the relentless attacks from both sides, that they no longer feel connected to our political process.

And yet, to me, that is even more of a reason to head to the polls, to cast a vote. We cannot complain if we are not actively engaged in the process. It is up to us, the citizens of the United States, to use our voices to make changes to our system.

We hope that after November 8, 2016, the process of healing will begin.

We pray that the real work of bringing all of our nation’s citizens together will start to help mend rifts, bind wounds, repair hurts and truly unite our great nation.

We each have our part in this process and it begins now: vote.

Your voice matters. Your voice counts. Your vote will make a difference.

We each have a responsibility to do our civic duty by learning as much as we can about each candidate, about each of the issues that matter the most to us, and by voting with our conscience.

And, we can each vote our own conscience while being respectful of how others are voting theirs. If others choose to be less-than-nice, we do not need to stoop to their level. To paraphrase Michelle Obama: “when others go low, we can go high.” We can model good citizenship by showing what true democracy is all about.

Jewish tradition teaches we can only prosper if we do all we can to make sure that our country is safe and secure. We can only prosper if we do all we can to ensure that our country prospers. We can only prosper if we do all we can to make sure that our country is united and at peace.

The biblical prophet Jeremiah taught the Jews who were living in exile in Babylonia (circa approximately 587 BCE) that it was important to be involved in the community in which they were living. He said: “Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their fruit….And seek the welfare of the city..and pray to the Eternal on its behalf; for in its prosperity, you shall prosper.” (Jeremiah 29: 5-8)

We live in a wonderful country. The United States has provided many with great opportunity. And yet…there is still so much work to be done. Continue the good work by voting, taking a stand, and making a difference in our world.

A Prayer for Our Country

O Guardian of life and liberty,

may our nation always merit Your protection.

Teach us to give thanks for what we have

by sharing it with those who are in need.

Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation,

and alert to the care of the earth.

May we never be lazy in the work of peace;

may we honor those who have died in defense of our ideals.

Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance.

May they govern with justice and compassion.

Help us all to appreciate one another,

and to respect the many ways that we may serve You.

May our homes be safe from affliction and strife,

and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen” (Mishkan T’filah: A Reform Siddur, Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2007, pg 376.)