The election with all its rhetoric and all its hyperbole is over. We have a new president-elect and we need to move forward. Together. We need to collaborate in order to address the increasingly complex challenges we face at home and abroad. To help them move in this direction, a number of river towns in the Hudson Valley have organized a Candlelight Vigil for November 27, at 4:00 pm at the Waterfront Park in Dobb’s Ferry, NY
I have the privilege of facilitating the gathering. The following are my notes which offer something of a model that you may find useful in your own neighborhood.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL OUTLINE
Intro (3 m)
A vigil is a time for being awake and aware: for being vigilant about what is important to us, about who we are, and about what we want our future to be.
We have come together for this candlelight vigil because we want to reinforce our connectedness and the essential values that we all hold. While it is true that change can make us anxious, it also brings the opportunity to remember what we share rather than to focus on what separates us.
We can begin by noticing and then avoiding the single-identity thinking which can cause us to reduce each other to stereotypes – Republican, Democrat, Muslim, Latino, etc. – and thereby create an us vs them mentality. Life is much more complex. We are all conglomerations of identities: ethnic, racial, professional, geographic, religious and so on. But building our community means finding shared identities that unite us, not just contrasting ones.
Our old American identity is evolving, stretched by globalization, and expanding through increasing diversity. We have to discover together a new national identity that binds and embraces all our particular identities. Elements of that shared identity include inclusivity regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, kindness and hope. This identity is the light that will bring us together across our differences and allow us to make a future for our children.
Invitation (5 m) Let me invite you to get a taste of that shared identity by turning to someone you don’t know and for one minute each, describe your hope for the future you want for your children (Share for 2-3 m)
Could we call out some of the elements of that hope we just shared (2 m)
This is the foundation of the shared identity that we need to develop together.
Candles (2 m) Light is a symbol of hope. One light can inspire possibility; many lights together can guide the way forward. So light your candle and pass the light on to a neighbor.
Silence (1 m) Let’s have a moment of silence to savor the hope we share – the foundation of our shared identity
Conclusion (3 m) We can take this light home with us and nurture it with our children. But we can also share it with our friends and neighbors. Let me read a piece by Margaret Wheatley that gives us some concrete suggestions for moving forward. It’s called Turning to One Another
There is no power greater than a community discovering
what it cares about.
Ask “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the difference you hear.
Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know
Real listening always brings people closer together
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.