President Obama is to be commended for insisting on greater “civilogue” in this country in his State of the Union address. He was clearly trying to reach across the aisle, and even the seating was more bipartisan. The spiritual value of seeing God in the other cannot be stressed enough in politics today. Our leaders have failed to be role models in this regard and are often the worst culprits when it comes to belittling the value of alternative opinions, even those held with deep conviction.
As much as the president sought to address the economic ills of the country, he did not, however, explore the spiritual and emotional anguish of those who are unemployed whose very sense of self-worth becomes a question mark in the absence of a job. The leadership of this country cannot focus exclusively on the financial bottom line when the jobless feel themselves to be faceless as well. They drop from our ranks and then drop from our universe of concerns. As we try to fix a broken world, we cannot only do the math. We also have to do calculations of the spirit and redeem the worth of those who struggle to find inner strength.
Dr. Erica Brown is a writer, educator, and scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.