Watching the events of the last three days unfold has produced a mix of emotions for most of us. Unfortunately, some people have chosen a less than civil response to the election while others are left wondering, “Okay, now what?” Here are some things I think we should think deeper into.
First, much of what we are seeing should be seen as a trust issue. Not getting your way reveals what you trust in, and some people trust in politicians and their policies to do the heavy lifting in their life. If your hope is in a political party or process, then you have outsourced the responsibility for yourself to someone else and in so doing have forfeited the right to be taken seriously. I still had to get up on Wednesday and go to work, pay my mortgage and take responsibility for leading my family. Today I got the first of my year end tax bills and there are two more to come. Can I get somebody to pay that because I’m experiencing “election fatigue?” At Yale, one of the most prestigious colleges in our country, students gathered for a primal scream and are now being allowed to not take mid-term exams because of the election. We are failing our kids when we don’t allow them to face the insufficiency of misplaced trust. Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.” When people let us down and we are disheartened it’s a great time to ask ourselves, “What was I expecting that person to do for me?”
Second, I find it interesting that the people who preach “tolerance” the most are the most intolerant people I’ve ever seen. They are the ones organizing protests on social media. They march down the street holding signs that read, “Love Trumps Hate” while chanting how much they hate our next president. My encouragement to you is simple, “Stop wasting time making signs and spewing venom on your social media platforms, get a job and go to work, get married, buy a house and settle in—you are going to be here a while.” This is actually a paraphrase of what God told His people when they were in captivity, so I’m not trying to be snarky as much as point out the fact that the Bible teaches us how to endure a difficult situation. So, if you see this as your country being taken captive then these instructions are for you. But before you spray on another layer of victim based activism you should ask yourself, “Why do I think my fears justify my sinful behavior?”
Third, the media is not America. Just because you hold a microphone doesn’t mean that you are an expert or should be listened to, nor do you represent the majority of Americans. The media no longer reports the news as much as they seek to make the news, which explains the severe bias on both sides. Never trust anyone who’s job is to convince you that their version of utopia is going to carry the day. That is how cults get started! If you are a Christian, you should have already embraced the pilgrim motif of a biblical eschatology which teaches us that in this life we can be content but we will never be satisfied because we aren’t home yet. Those who believe in a political utopia here on earth are strip mining heaven of it’s celestial realities and their followers are destined for disappointment. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Why do I allow strangers to shape my worldview when I am the one who will give an account for it?”
Fourth, don’t be fooled by all the marching, protest and civil unrest you see taking place in certain cities. This is what happens when you raise a generation where everybody gets a trophy, there are no losers and your feelings create your reality. People don’t know how to lose, shake hands and congratulate their opponent because we are a nation of victims, nothing is our fault and we’ve been parented to believe that if we complain long enough things will change. In reality, not getting your way is a part of adulthood. Jesus Christ, the son of God, didn’t even get His way, so where do we get the idea that we are always going to get our way?
Fifth, remember Colossians 4:5–6 which says, “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Remember this the next time you are on Facebook. I am not a big fan of social media because it allows people to comment outside the context of relationship and when that happens our lesser selves will manifest themselves in the cruelest of ways. Anonymity makes cultural/political revolutionaries of everybody, however, sitting down and looking someone in the eye and conversing over a cup of coffee makes friends out of people from vastly different political orientations.
Finally, all of this has reminded me of the gracious directness of my father-in-law. One year when we were back in Pensacola for Christmas and while at a local seafood restaurant, he spotted Joe Scarborough across the room. Joe can now be seen on MSNBC, but back then he was a newly elected member of the House of Representatives from Max’s district. After dinner, Max made a point to go over and shake his hand and I heard him say, “Joe, I didn’t vote for you, but you are my representative and I want you to know that you will have my support.” We filed out to the car and nothing else was said about it but I remember it like it was yesterday, and remembering this brings me to my final question, “Do you think it’s possible to reclaim a sense of civility in our culture in regards to people with whom we disagree?”
Thinking in hope,