Following a bruising presidential election, some Americans are afraid of the future. Others feel that the tumult of the campaign was necessary to disrupt business as usual. Multitudes feel that the country has lost its way, while just as many believe that the nation has finally found its footing. No doubt millions of people have witnessed these divisions at their own Thanksgiving feasts.
Many of us in the religious world wonder: How can we bridge this chasm and unify our body politic? How does the country close the fault line that divides the U.S. in half? Is it possible to stand for what we believe is right while still being civil toward the friends, family and neighbors who supported the “wrong” candidate? The way forward lies not in politics, but in something that binds us together as human beings: the simple act of giving to others.
Giving has long been invoked as a healing counterpoint to the darker sides of human nature. Tzedakah””the Jewish concept of donating at least 10% of one’s income to charity””comes from the Hebrew word for justice, or righteousness. Generosity is also at the heart of Christianity, and it is one of the five pillars of Islam.