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Local view: Listen well to campaign promises

Uncertainty is growing. This causes denial in some and reflection in others. Many feel uneasy with the state of our ecology, economy and governance. These uncertain feelings push us to listen. This is how we develop insight, anticipating the path before us. As Yogi Berra observed, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Approaching a turning point, we must turn to mitochondrial Eve. She was the first Homo sapien. She lived 200,000 years ago. She endowed us with our own mitochondria, the energy factories in each of our cells. Through more than 7,500 generations, she and our more recent mothers have given us the capacity for the energy we know as life, a limited but remarkable capacity. She gave us the capacity for instinct, emotion, language, relationships, cognition and institutions. These are the tools of society and represent our capacity for civilization.

As tribal members, we have taken these gifts with direction from our fathers and built communities from the patterns of interaction. Our mothers and fathers have added their character and touch to our development and direction. This is why we wonder about our broken ecology as climate warming accelerates extinction rates. It makes us concerned about the growing inequality in our economy where 1 percent of the U.S. population reportedly controls 35 percent of the wealth and the top 10 percent are said to control more than half the nation’s wealth. And our system of representation seems broken when all corporations, considered people by the Roberts Court, are considered equal in their ability to influence political choices in our republic.

It seems our ecology, economy and governance have brought us to a fork in the road.

Any one of these crises could bring tragedy to our families and communities.

Climate warming may cause more weather catastrophes. Growing economic concentration of capital could produce more despair and violence. And political erosion of our democratic principles by lobbyists fed by billionaires may ignite political violence. All these risks are rising for our kids and communities. Our early mothers would not be pleased by the moral hazards we accept.

When the concentration of carbon dioxide has passed 400 ppm in the atmosphere, when the top 10 percent of the population own more than 50 percent of the wealth, and when the price of real estate in Maryland is driven to record highs by a new legislative class of lobbyists, it is time to take the fork.

The most direct step would be listening to the campaign promises made before this November’s elections. If you do not hear the candidates refer to at least one of these rising risks to our communities, they probably are working for the corporate person and not the republic.

Standing at a turning point, the November elections offer us a critical choice.

Bill Mittlefehldt of Duluth is a board member for the Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light Team (, a Twin Cities nonprofit supported by more than 200 Minnesota faith teams. The team is associated with the national group, Interfaith Power and Light Team, which represents the interests of more than 2,000 faith teams in the U.S.