Come join me and take a sip of that healing tonic poured out recently in the Georgia Senate run-off. It is a drink we have needed for so long, that cool drink on a hot summer’s day or hot tea or coffee on a cold winter’s night, that refreshes our hope, quenches our thirst for good thoughts and right action, joins us together as we toast to our common humanity. A drink served by a host who clearly cares for us and cares about us and is not throwing the party for his own glory, but to exercise his lifetime of service.
In case you missed Raphael Warnock’s victory speech, take twenty minutes of your day to watch it. Here is a reminder of what a politician is meant to be. A servant of the people who feels their pain and joys, hopes and prayers and will work tirelessly to help give them what we all truly need— food, shelter, good health care, good education, moral guidance. What he won’t do is feed our greed, our prejudice, our hatred, out ignorance, our desperate efforts to create our identity by putting down and pushing out and ruling over others.
He sees the work as his job and is committed to the nuts and bolts of getting the job down. But he also feels it as a calling, a request to represent a higher power. At the sweet moment of victory, he begins by thanking all the people who tirelessly worked to make it happen and immediately follows with “and to God be the glory.”
This refreshing half-full glass is filled with so much intelligence, humility, clarity, care, love, understanding, all those (and more) values that lift us up and connect us and feed our better selves. About 13 minutes into his speech, after talking about John Lewis, that courageous man who walked across a dangerous bridge to build a bridge to the future, he says:
Now it is on us to keep building a bridge to the future, to keep walking that long walk, to keep pushing the nation to our ideal. The work that we must do is difficult. The issues are not simple, they’re complex. But this is my promise to you. I will walk with you even as I work for you. For here is what I learned as a pastor.
• You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people.
• You can’t love the people if you don’t know the people.
• You can’t know the people unless you walk among the people.
Bam! In three lines, he hits all the nails of inspired leadership, be it a country, a business or school, straight on the head. This should be made into a poster prominently displayed in all offices of people in power. He goes on:
You can't serve me if you can't see me. I want to let you know. I see you and I’m here with you. And together we can work through these issues. I want all of Georgia to know, whether you voted for me or not, that every single day I’m going to keep working for you.
Are you feeling it? ALL elected representatives take an oath to serve the people, and yet many make it clear without a trace of shame that they will only represent the people who voted for them, who agree with them, who donate large sums of money to them and who will never question them. Mr. Warnock is here to remind us how democracy is actually supposed to work, what the true job description of a politician is and by what standards we should hold the people we elect accountable. A reminder we clearly sorely need.
For today, I’ll keep the cup half-full and enjoy the refreshing taste of a victory well-deserved that is good news for all of us. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the glass half-empty.