Impossible to Light a Candle on Election Day

This post has nothing to do with Internet Marketing, and yet it has everything to do with it, too.

Churches close on Election Day. Who would have thought they would?

My mom suggested a few weeks back that I stop in a church to light a candle and say a prayer. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a church, but I felt a lot like lighting that candle tonight. So, I set out in the drizzle, and walked a block down the street to a darkened church. I climbed the steps, and tried the knob. It didn’t turn.

There’s another church a couple of blocks back in the other direction, so I turned about, and hopefully retraced my steps through the rain. As I got close, I noticed a sign telling me that this church was also closed on Election Day. I walked up, and tried the door anyway, but it was locked.

I decided that I would try to light that candle in the morning, and turned around again, to head back home.

Maybe the churches don’t want to seem to be involved in earthly elections. Maybe they thought that many would be preoccupied with deciding who would be elected to guide the country on this Election Day. I wish I could have said my prayers surrounded by the solace of a church, but I’ll try to take some quiet moments at home to say them.

I wonder about spirituality in the workplace. I wonder about doors that should be opened, but are locked instead when they are needed. It’s not something that I usually write about here, but it is something that I think about, and something that I’ve been thinking about very much recently.

Work should be a place where you do something that you care about deeply, where you can make a difference in the world, or where you can develop the tools to make that difference.

Work should be a place where you can help empower others to make positive changes to this earth that we share together.

How often do we think about the struggles of others when we decide to work with a client, or when we decide how we will promote a business or organization, or interact with people who are new to our industry?

We need to be lighting candles, we need to be concerned about the welfare of others whom we share our livelihoods and lives with, we need to make sure that doors aren’t locked when they should be open.

There’s more to this story, and I’ll be writing about it over the days and weeks to come, and I’ll mix in some posts about patents and search engines, but I’ll be coming back to it. As an industry and as individuals, members of the search marketing community need to consider some change (and I’m not excluding myself from that statement).

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15 thoughts on “Impossible to Light a Candle on Election Day”

  1. Prayer and meditation is something that too few of us actually participate in enough, IMHO.

    I think that we should committed to be as involved moving forward, as we all have in the most recent election. Not just in elections, but in our churches, communities and elections.

    Bill, your thoughts, even if they aren’t about internet marketing, directly or indirectly, they are appreciated and welcome. Everyone has a voice, only we can choose to be silent!

  2. Hi Stephen.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Prayer and meditation, and reasoned contemplation of the implications of our actions and failures to act, as professionals and as people, is something that can help us grow, and can make a difference in the lives of others if we then take action. It would be a better world if more of us did.

  3. Interesting thoughts Bill and looking forward to the ‘next chapters’. I have noticed that many churches have locked their doors in some areas while others remain committed to keeping them open for whomever should feel the desire or need to go. In watching the search community evolve, it’s been very apparent to me that some ‘healing’ is in order. While the industry will continue to grow, if we, as a group, continue to send mixed signals to the Internet audience or argue about what are purely facts in open forums, it does not bode well for the integrity of a very necessary industry in the coming years. Best, Charlie

  4. Thanks so much for this powerful post and responses.

    As a long-time researcher, writer and speaker about spirit and work, I’m always thrilled to see the topic coming to the forefront in all fields. In internet marketing, you have a unique opportunity to create a meaningful impact with your customers, their customers, and the larger world.

    Everyone has a drive for meaning, a sense of integrity, a capacity for joy in serving others. Nowhere are these gifts more necessary than the workplace — the place where most adults spend most of our waking lives. Simple spiritual practices, like taking a moment to light a candle (even mentally), to meditate, to bless our work, can pay huge dividends in the way we work and how our work impacts others. Your courage in speaking about spirit in the midst of everyday practical challenges is most needed.

    At the Spirit and Work Resource Center in Berkeley, CA, we have a large library of books and articles on spirit and work in many categories. We’ll gladly add this post and invite your other thoughts. We are also rapidly growing our online presence and will soon be publishing an expanded bibliography, including many web-based resources.

    Please visit us and let us know how we can serve you. Many blessings for rich and satisfying work, Pat Sullivan

  5. Hi Charlie,

    I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. Healing is needed, as well as forgiveness and compassion, and a mending of ways fueled by a very real human interest in others.

    The maturity of the search industry and its future may depend upon people looking back, and seeing their mistakes, and working to make amends and to forgive, and to work together to build something better.

    My prayers from yesterday, and from today, weren’t for an outcome to the election, but rather for people whom I care about very much. Prayer by itself is only a start. What needs to happen is change.

    It would be great to see many more marketing firms embrace the idea that “for the public good” is an essential part of doing business, and lead by example with pro bono efforts in helping nonprofits, and their communities as well as communities around the globe. It’s important that kind and considered discussions replace heated exchanges in forums and social networks and blogs. It’s essential that we reach a hand out to those who are new to the industry instead of snubbing them. We need to open doors to change, and not lock them tightly.

  6. Hi Pat,

    Thank you very much for your words, and for providing a resource that can be very much helpful to others. I will be looking for some of the books that you recommend on your site.

    Embracing spirit in the face of everyday practical challenges can help fortify us, and help us find solutions to those challenges. Considering how our work and our words can impact others before we start the work day, or before we respond can make our lives richer and more fulfillling, as well as benefiting others lives.

  7. It seems strange that I refer to a term which has now pretty much lost it’s meaning to most of us here in Africa. “Ubuntu” meaning “humanness” is something that in general seems to be lacking generally among the masses. Perhaps it is because so many people are simply going through the motions? Perhaps it is of greater concern as a sign of the times in general? Who knows?

    The world seems to be a pretty mean place at times where everyone is asking one simple question, “What’s in it for me?” Is that really the bottom line? Perhaps, after all I can recall once saying that there is no such thing as a selfless act.

    While I still agree with that statement, I wonder how many folk can accept simple gratitude as sufficient payment? Okay, I’m not talking work for free, but even Macdonalds promise smiles for free!

    I guess that’s my biggest concern. In the world today we are programmed to be machines and that Ubuntu is gone. I figure people need to spend some time and think on things for a bit. After all, a candle loses none of it’s own light in lighting another.

  8. Not a religious person but one wishing I spent more energy on spirituality I completely agree with your ideals on work and the workplace.

    Often I find myself daydreaming about enough time to sit quietly, breathe and meditate for a half hour or so.

    I also find myself wishing I worked with companies and causes I find important, rather than with a company that’s lost in the dark and more often than not appears to tell its employees they are replaceable machines.

    We need more humanity, more spirituality and more options available to us when we need a candle to light our way.

  9. I always thought that although it may difficult for a church to do, church doors should always be open. Election day hardly seems like a reason as to why the church should be locked up. I know that the election is important, but it is not like people take the whole day off of work, or alter their schedule so much on election day.
    As for other parts of your post, I agree and wish dearly that people could live their life and work in their jobs for the betterment of others. What a great change that would be, but it can only start with us. I am curious how you will throw some internet marketing into this as you continue the topic. ;)
    Cheers!
    Olaf

  10. You can always pray anytime, anywhere. God is not confined to churches. It violates His true entity. Or maybe you were just hating election fever because it change a day of your routine? Anyway, is Obama really anti-Outsourcing?

  11. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve only seen the word Ubuntu used before as a name for a version of Linux software. I like the definition that you’ve provided very much – humaness. This world of ours would be a better place if we all engaged in selfless acts more often. As you note, and I like this statement very much:

    After all, a candle loses none of it’s own light in lighting another.

    Hi Kristen,

    Thank you. I’ve been in at least one job before where the leaders of the company would tell us at company meetings that everyone was replaceable. I don’t think they were aware of how much that simple statement deflated morale, and led to more problems rather than less. There are lots of opportunities in the world to work towards something that you believe in…

    Hi Olaf,

    Appreciate your comments. I wish more church doors were open, when they end up locked. I was very surprised to see the ones I visited closed on election day.

    Spirituality and Internet Marketing – it is a topic that I want to continue to explore. For now, I believe that as internet marketers, we often have choices as to whom we work with, who we decide to promote, who we attempt to help, and we can do so with the idea that in making those choices, we can be working to also help promote the public good and build a richer and healthier world.

    Hi aiushtha,

    Thanks. You don’t need a church to pray, I agree. I guess my point wasn’t so much about elections, or even locked doors, but rather about feeling that access to the spiritual side of life may be cut off by things that we might feel we have little control over – when maybe we have more than we realize. I can pray at home, and I can find time to see past a strict business approach to work to a vocation that considers the spirtual and compassionate side of life and work.

  12. Stolen (copy and paste from Wikipedia):

    Ubuntu (IPA: [uːˈbuːntuː] in English,[ùɓúntú] in Zulu) is a free computer operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. Its name comes from the Zulu word “ubuntu”, loosely translated as “humanity”, describing the ubuntu philosophy: “I am who I am because of those around me,” a positive aspect of community.

    Having lived in KZN for a number of years now, it’s a concept that kind of rubs off on one. I believe that this is a great name for open source software mostly because it’s quite true – the software is developed and modified by those using it because of their needs.

    I guess like all things, you put your little bit in and everyone gains more. A classic case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

  13. Thank you, Robert.

    That’s a wonderful philosophy:

    I am who I am because of those around me

    Ubuntu is a great name for open source software, and the open source software movement is a really good example of people freely exchanging ideas, finding solutions to their needs and sharing them with others.

  14. @ William: Thanks, but all those quotes have been stolen from elsewhere ;)

    That said, they are still very valid. But in today’s cyber age where personal contact and interaction seems to be on the decline I guess they are more true and important than ever before.

  15. I believe that you are right, Robert.

    Those quotes hold as much if not more weight now that others across the globe are our neighbors, and so many are concerend with broadcasting their thoughts instead of engaging in actual conversations.

    The web can be a medium that takes away the sound of voices and the sight of nonverbal communication, but I think it gives back by letting us have conversations with people whom we wouldn’t be able to talk with otherwise. :)

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