I’m excited about writing this new column for AWN as the new year gets underway. I hope this column initiates a journey that will help us all live together a little better as each week goes by. So let’s get started:

Political corruption is the result of human corruptibility. If a politician is corrupt, it is because politicians are human and corruptibility is built into human nature. Am I trying to provide an excuse or condone unseemly policies, associations and behaviors? Not at all. However, if one seeks to heal disease, a right or proper diagnosis is the place to start.

When you enter any contest, battle, game or engagement, it is always to your advantage to know, as best you can, your strengths and weaknesses. The truth of the matter is that if you are confronting or facing a worthy opponent, it is the nature of struggle to seek every advantage.

My point is this: During this election season, we are being confronted with various forms of private and public corruptions within our political system. Sadly, there are voters (and potential voters) who will decide not to vote because the “system” is corrupt, broken and rigged.

Dear reader, this type of retreat is always self-defeating. You’ve forfeited any possible victory before the game has even begun. It is not just the result of ideological constructions that people and nations fight and protest for the right to vote. I believe we are born not only with the seed of enfranchisement, the need to be acknowledged and accepted, but also with the weed of corruption that attempts to choke the very life out of the young seedling before it can take strong root. Science has already taught us that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Every struggle will have its victor.

Corruption has, can and will continue to be overcome. History has shown this time and time again. Who are those that can conquer this beast that lives within us all? Look in the mirror. It’s you, me, the politicians, school principals, janitors, doctors, gangbangers, drug addicts, preachers, etc. Whichever side of our nature we give into, we will find and attract others who have done the same.

Reality dictates that one side has to win. Somebody will have the advantage.

Reality check: Every vote is weighted the same (whether there is cheating or no cheating, the most votes wins). Voting is of course not an end unto itself. It is a means to an end. It is a mechanism or vehicle that allows us to express, hopefully, the better sides of our humanity-a way of overcoming apathy with concern, mediocrity with excellence, racism with righteousness, evil with good.

The system needs you to make it better, and believe it or not we all are the system. I know there are those in the reading audience who would argue vehemently against the previous statement, but it is as true and right as the sunshine and rain. Who were the arbiters of resources before they became the arbiters of resources? They were/are persons who had to struggle, compete and fight for leadership from within their own particular groups.

Richard M. Daley never, and again I say never, bested the late Harold Washington for Chicago’s mayoral seat. Harold Washington was elected twice, against all odds. Were there others who wanted to be mayor at that time as well? Of course! Mayor Washington’s army worked harder and fought smarter than all the other contenders.

No one gave him the victory-he took it!

Was it a corrupt and flawed system back in ’83? Yes! That’s just the nature of the game. Or in other words, that’s just the reality of being human, regardless of our constructed categories. Corruption? Before we offer a terminal critique of the “system” let us with a new urgency look within ourselves and see if we have allowed our own “inner system(s)” to become the servant of our lesser selves.

It is my hope and prayer that we will continue to rise up in spite of ourselves and master ourselves and fight the right fight. Vote, demand accountability, and never, never stop organizing new and better systems. God bless you and power to you.

Rev. Gregory Livingston is pastor of Mandell United Methodist Church and the former head of the Westside Ministers Coalition.