Post Election - Picking up the Pieces
Well it's the third day after the stunning end of the most divisive, incendiary presidential election of all time.
In the past, after what we used to think of as a 'rough and tumble' election, both sides would dust themselves off, the winner would promise to do whatever he could to help the winner. In her concession speech, Hilary Clinton struck this conciliatory tone to a large degree, and Donald Trump responded with what, for him at least, was grace and good manners. The consolation prize for both is that they probably never need to be in one another's presence again. Not a small thing.
For the rest of us, the actual American people, defined as those who live here in America, regardless of where they were born, there are millions of jagged pieces to be picked up. The unfortunate by-product of what turned out to be a brilliant campaign strategy, is that closet haters of all shapes and sizes, have come out of the shadows and, at least in these days immediately following the vote, have behaved like the deplorable people that Hilary described in her accurate but ill-advised moment of campaign candor.
The haters who have been unleashed include racists, sexists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, anti-Semites, religious haters of various stripes, but most prominently, those who hate Muslims. The haters act like they've been freed from the bondage of behaving like decent human beings.
Because of these incidents, which are widely broadcast, various groups are understandably concerned. The fear they face is why the rest of us need to be vocal in our denunciation of this behavior and support the victims of this cruelty. We are better than this, and to reassure those who are anxious is part of being a strong community.
I keep hearing that we want to 'make America like it used to be.' That, of course, is code for whiter, more English-speaking, more Christian, less diverse. Well, this is neither realistic nor even desirable. Our society has evolved. America is the land of opportunity now, as it was when our ancestors, whether last year or 5 centuries ago, came here. It is by no means perfect, and with growth comes change and with change, sometimes, the loss of the comfortable.
We joke ruefully about 'press 1 for English' and that sort of thing. We talk about our ancestors coming here and that they 'had to learn English.' Personally, I think that's great, and it certainly makes things easier - for me at least - but I understand that not everyone is good with learning language, or for some reason doesn't want to. They live with whatever struggles their accumulated decisions cause, as we all do.
Further, what we are now saying about immigrants from Mexico or Africa or anywhere people don't look or act 'American' is the same stuff that the residents said about our Irish, Italian or Jewish ancestors when they came here. Granted, there is the issue of legal immigration versus those who are 'undocumented,' but this detail doesn't supersede what it says on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty, which describes, literally, our position on this:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
So what now? How do we pick up the pieces?
I believe, strongly, that God is in control. I believe that everything that has happened is part of His plan, which has an eternal timeline, a fact which is challenging to get ones head around. It is this faith that helps me to remain calm and hopeful regardless of what may be happening right now, here on earth.
In terms of action, Jesus commands us to love God and to love one another. Not just Christians or Jews or Whites or Blacks or Straights or Gays or people who were or were not born here. He meant everyone. And what did he mean by love? To appreciate others, to care for others, to serve others. To love ones enemies, whomever we perceive them to be.
And specifically, not to judge others. Sin is sin. We all sin. Only Jesus was perfect. Nobody else. All sin offends God. I learned a useful saying not long ago, and I've been using it a lot: "Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past." It means there is hope, no matter what you've done, if you repent your sins and believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus coming to the world as a man, and being crucified as a sacrifice for all of our sins, is the single greatest gift that any of us will ever be given. All we have to do is accept it.
Kindness, care, patience, humility, service. These are things that already make America great. We must not be discouraged by the evil behavior of a few.
We must pray for our new President, who is, like all of us, a sinner, and who will lead our country for the next 4 years. We must pray for those who join his administration, that they may be guided by a persistent desire to do good for people. We must pray for those in the campaign who lost, that they remain engaged in trying to make the world a better place. We must pray that love eclipses hate, in thought, in word and in deed.
God bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.