Election Day 2020 - November 3, 2020
A promise: In this post, I will not try to persuade you who to vote for - not my place, not the purpose of this post.
A disclaimer: This will be a longer than normal post.
I am up early this morning and it feels like there are words to be said. I have been fairly silent for what I thought was a couple of months, but it is actually closer to 4 months. I think there are some things that have become clear to me and I have a few words that might be helpful IF you want to to be stirred up/provoked/spurred on towards love and good deeds (see Hebrew 10:24).
And IF you are tired of living in tied up, bound up, pinned down by either fear, anger or frustration due to politics of this world and the people you know - both near and far- that has weaponized those politics in a way that impacted you personally and deeply.
If that is you, then have I got a post for you…
So, let’s start by saying some things we know for sure:
We don’t know who will win after the votes are all counted and the dust settles. And if you are dependent upon the outcome of that for your health or wholeness, then you are setting yourself up to be living in constant disappointment. Because here is the reality - even your person, the one you voted for, will let you down from time to time. Our hope does not originate with the candidate we choose and if they are elected or not elected. Our hope comes from the Creator.
AND your voice matters. Get out there and vote. If you have not already, then get moving to make it happen. Our system is not perfect, but it is one where folks get to choose and say I want this person to represent me. And that is a good thing. I think the reality of making sure that all votes are counted, and voices heard is a good thing we should all be able to get behind. Do not fall into the passivity that says, your vote does not matter. It does matter.
AND your actions - now and in all days in the future matter even more to those nearby. Politics have an allure, right? There are fights that we are not directly involved in, yet we can participate in from a distance. It becomes like a watching sports - we cheer for our team, and put down the other team and we complain about the refs when we think the calls are not going our way. It is easier to do this, because the people are not real to us, I don’t know of anyone that knows knows either of the candidates this year. We are not friends with them, they are not family to us. Yet I have seen over and over and over again, people choose their candidate over their friends, family and people in their faith community.
Stop and think about that for a second.
Will you allow a person that has a professed set of beliefs separate you from someone you have known for one, two, three decades or in the case of family, your entire life? I see this happening a lot and it is painful to watch relationships destroyed during this current political climate.
Now, I can hear some of you saying, but how can I be friends/even friendly with someone that supports that person for president? That is a great question, I am glad you asked. This is one of the questions I have deeply struggled with myself. We have go back to the former point and separate a person’s support for X candidate from what the person really sees and thinks about the world. Just because Tom supports the Republican/Democratic candidate does not mean that Tom does embrace all that Republican/Democratic stands for. Tom is Tom, whether he leans right or left in his voting.
Tom is a person. Right? Tom is a friend, long before this person that you now support even entered the race for president. Tom is a family member and you all go way back.
You start by remembering they are a person. A person with a head, heart, soul and strength. A person just like you are a person. This is the key that unlocks the door. This door leads us back to being the people that we are called to be. (If you are reading this you probably know me and know I am follower of Jesus and so when I write, I write to those that follow Jesus. Thus when I say the people we are called to be, it is a reminder to those that follow Jesus that there is a higher, beyond this physical world call that we must listen to.)
So you acknowledge they are a person, and then from there, you listen. You learn. You put yourself in their shoes. You pray for them. I remember in 2016, finding out a couple folks that I have deep respect for, voted in a different way than I did. I assumed, hey we are pastors, we are in the denomination, and we see reality the same way in so, so many other ways- but we did not.
I could not easily dismiss either of these folks out of hand, because they were people I deeply, deeply respected. It caused me to step back. Acknowledge their personhood. Get curious and ask questions.
When in doubt, follow Walt Whitman’s advice: be curious, not judgmental.
Now for the * to my previous comments. And if you have made it this far, then you get to hear the good stuff here. I have seen folks that call on the name of Jesus sow hatred, anger and fear. There is no place for that in and amongst God’s people. So hear me and hear me well, no matter who wins when all the votes are counted, there is not place for us, God’s church and His people to sow hatred, anger and fear. Those are not the tools of God. Those are the tools of the Devil. Plain and simple.
If you call on Jesus and you love the fear-mongering, hate sharing, anger fueling discussions - stop it. Repent. You are not helping anyone except the Enemy - aka Satan win. The church has lived through all the American presidents, and God willing it will see quit a few more election cycles. Therefore, the long game says: don’t ruin your representation of Jesus over a candidate or a party. No person is saying yes to Jesus and his offer of love, grace, mercy, hope and freedom when the invitation is being written with hatred, fear and anger.
What is next thing I want to share: Oh, yes I remember now.
Earlier I was reflecting upon how for me, that politics are an “out there, way far away” thing. I admit, I have not been deeply impacted throughout my life by who is in office or who is not in office. My day to day life has not changed much. I write from that perspective. And yet, 2020 has made me deeply aware that there are those that are directly and deeply impacted by who is in office. This year, we have seen racial tensions exposed and we have seen the deep divide in the way folks see health, healthcare and science. Can we all acknowledge there are people’s shoes we have not walked in up to this point in our lives? Can we see the personhood in another and not a number or an object that we judge based on our political bias?
There are people currently hurting. And those people need people to care for them, to walk with them, to fight for them when they can’t fight and to give voice when they have no words. This my friends, rests primarily with those that follow Jesus and his church. Wendell Berry, the mad farmer and prophet of Kentucky says it this way (my paraphrase): The government can’t fix what we broke at a local level with more policies at the government level. They are too far removed from the situation. Local problems need local answers. If everyone would ask: “Is this good for my neighbor downstream of me?” If yes, then do it. If no, then find another way. This question would help us get results that each community desperately needs.
Here is the point: there is good to be done in our family, with our friends, in our faith communities, in our counties. Take some of that energy and go and do love and good deeds. Make an impact.
Do you still advocate for policy and for those politicians that can change it? Yes. I talked to someone the other day that is deeply passionate about policy. There is a place and people out there that can make a difference. What I am saying is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You can feel and hurt with those that feel and hurt. And you can act. And you can give voice to policies.
Rounding the corner to finish this up (no really, I am)
One of my least favorite movies of all time: Independence Day. Will Smith plays a fighter pilot that saves the world from alien invasion (I think that is the general plot line). For some reason, when I awoke this morning, I was thinking about that crazy movie. Why was I thinking about it? I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if there was an alien invasion right now, and we we could all lay down our differences and grudges and anger and hatred and fear and embrace one another to fight a common enemy? Yes, my 5:15 am solution to where we find ourselves right now is an alien invasion - to be honest it is 2020, so nothing much would surprise us right now. I want this because I want that moment where those that have fought and fought and will continue to fight for days to come, would realize that the other is not the enemy and embrace and say, “I am sorry.” And then start working for the common good, using the healthy tension to get to the best answer for the whole.
I want a story book ending of sort, a fairy-tale.
I am not for sure aliens are invading anytime soon, but that got my thinking
What if the church, that follows Jesus could actually acknowledge that there is an enemy that has a far more evil agenda than any agenda your least favorite party has for this world. And that the enemy’s agenda is one fear, anger and hatred. And it is meant to divide us. It is meant to have us demean the other. It is meant to entrench you and at the same time justify all your actions by spiritualizing them.
This is the place we find ourselves today.
Here is my response and my invitation to you:
I will stand against this truly evil agenda is this world. I will stand with Jesus and his teachings (see the sermon on the mount). I will stand with doing all I can to make tables and not build walls. I will make peace in this world, and not just settle for false harmony. I will see others as humans, with value and worth. I will refuse to chase down fear, anger and hatred when it presents itself in all its forms.
As my friend reminds me often, “where you sit is where you stand.”
Where will you stand?
Today, where will you choose to sit?
As always - if you want to talk or discuss the above, reach out to me and we can talk.