I had the unusual privilege of observing our nation’s presidential election unfold from a different country’s perspective this year. From the country of Ireland, I watched the news coverage and read Facebook posts as the announcement of our 45th president was made. As I did, I was extremely surprised by the reactions that were expressed over the outcome. In my 45 years, I have never witnessed such unrestrained airing of opinion and conjecture over an election.
In the wake of such strong, angry, and sometimes fearful responses, I thought I might remind you of a few truths to help make your day, and the people around you’s day, a little bit better.
First, to those who have been gloating over the victory of your candidate, please stop. Your man won. Savor the fact that you voted for the winner. Throw yourself a little party even, but there’s no need to rub others’ noses in the loss of their choice for president. It shows little class, and doesn’t honor others to declare how right you were.
Second, to those who have been bemoaning the loss of their candidate, please mind how you express your disappointment. There is a younger generation that is watching how you handle this. Your children and grandchildren are likely to take on your fears, attitudes, and even despair. It’s not a burden that’s fair to place on them. I can only imagine what they’re thinking with all of us grown ups going around gloating and bemoaning.
In the midst of all of the visceral reactions to the election, it seems that we’ve forgotten the most important commandment. It’s to love. We’re called to love those of different political bends and love those who disagree with us. Back in my peewee league football days, we congratulated the team that defeated us. It was a way of graciously accepting that we could have done better and a reminder to play smarter next time. And when we won, we humbly accepted the losing team’s congratulation and moved on to the next game. We lost and won in a loving, respectful way and we didn’t villainize the players on the other team.
If you’re in a cynical funk, and really feel the need to place the blame on someone, or a group of someones, you have my permission to blame the media. It’s no secret that they have controlled the narrative for this election and, for the most part, we’ve gobbled up most of what they’ve fed us with very little research on our part to determine if they’re telling us the truth or find out where the candidates really stand. Their job is to attain, and keep, as many watchers, readers, and listeners as possible, and not to lose you with the boring old truth. Don’t believe the hype. Take it all with a grain of salt.
It’s always been a comforting thing for me to know that the president of our country has limited power. For some reason, we behave like we’re electing a god. I remember people saying that Obama was going to be “rounding up Christians”. Well, here we are, still worshiping in public. The POTUS doesn’t have absolute power. He still leads within a system of checks and balances. In addition to that, we hold elections for a new president every 4 years, and one can’t serve more than 2 terms. For over 150 years, the political pendulum has swung back and forth, with Democrats in power for a season, and Republicans in power for a season. At worse, the other party will be in power for a while, and then things will swing back to your party. Just try to relax and enjoy life in the meantime.
Lastly, I believe that we would get worked up far less if we didn’t so easily forget that our hope is not in political leaders. We are citizens in God’s Kingdom, strangers, not of this world. Let’s act like it. Let’s praise God for His goodness. Let’s serve others with the love and compassion of Christ. Let’s invite others into this wonderful Kingdom and reflect the immense hope that is within us!