I am shaken. Shaken right to my core by this entire election season. It wasn’t until the polls were closed early Wednesday morning that I realized how much hope I had placed in the outcome of this election. I have seen more hate, disdain, and single-mindedness concentrated into the past 12 months than I have seen in the past 12 years.
Most of what has been visible on the media and on social site has been a condemnation and demonization of the other side. We leap to the worst conclusions with our neighbor, our friend, our brother. We are divided. That has never been more clear than it was last night. But rather than letting our divisions act as seed of hatred, let us address them. Let us listen to one another, actually listen. Don’t spend the whole time they speak formulating rebuttals. View their concerns, fears, and opinions as valid. Seek to understand the decisions and ideas behind their actions. Mourn with those who are mourning; address and enter into their fear and pain with them. Do not make personal attacks against those who are of a different mind then you, rather try to put yourself in their shoes and understand.
I am from the state of Wyoming. It is a rural state with much revenue coming from coal or oil industries. The EPA is a bunch of hippies to most Wyomingites, because they would restrict money garnering industries. Yes we are completely modernized and have indoor plumbing, “Old West” justice and ideals are palpable. Wyoming votes largely Republican, having only voted for a democratic president only once since the 1950’s. For the people of Wyoming, most have valid reasons for voting red; they fear for their livelihoods. I did not come by this understanding by accusing my fellow Wyomingites of being bigoted, racist, misogynists. I had civil discussions with those who hold different opinions.
For those who are close to me, it is obvious which candidate held my vote. I called a friend on election day celebrating that I just voted for a woman in the presidential election in the US. But we were not victorious. Now, we lift up our heads and keep moving forward. It does no good to sling hate at those who are not disappointed.
That being said, we as followers of Christ are called to respect authority. Whether or not we personally feel like Donald Trump is a respectable individual, he is the president elect. On January 1, he will be known as Mr. President. That title alone demands respect. This isn’t an easy thing to swallow, but Christ did not call us to many things that are easy. So we ought to respect Mr. Trump, or at least try to.
We as followers of Christ are called to be agents of reconciliation, are called to display unity. How mightily we have failed these past months. Let us take this opportunity to join together with other believers, creating a peaceful and safe place for those who are hurting, fearful, or angry. Our religion should influence our politics but our politics shouldn’t influence our religion. It is not up to Mr. Trump to go to bat for the oppressed, the exile, the fatherless, or the widow. That is still on us. How we as a church are failing.
Philippians 2:3 comes to mind. “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” That means those who I disagree with. That means those I am fearful of. That means Mr. Trump.
So let us humbly step forward into this new season with our country, filled with respect, love, and consideration.
Photo from poet Tyler Knott Gregson.