November 9, 2016

An Election Day Hangover

My son was the first to get up this morning after me. He walks into the kitchen bleary-eyed, he looks up at me and asks, "Well?"

"Trump won," I said.

He went to his knees and cried. "No!" he wailed. I picked him up, sat him down at the kitchen table and asked him to explain his sadness to me. "He has said such terrible things about people. What about Mom and Paige? What about my friends? What does this say about them? ... Why him?"

Do not mistake my son's compassion for political correctness. His mother and I have raised him to love God with every fiber of his being and to care for his neighbor as he would himself. The highest of Christian ideals and the greatest commands given by our Savior. Not political correctness. He's trying to follow Jesus. He loves many people who fall within the demographics Donald Trump has slandered. It broke his heart because he loves those people.

wrote yesterday that I had no anxiety about the presidential election.

What a difference a day makes!?

I confess that I do now.

Maybe this exposes the arrogance or naivety that I did not see in myself. I don't regret my vote. My opinions have not changed but I am now concerned.

I do believe white, progressive Americans were duped. As my son and I chatted we recognized that black Americans had certainly not been duped. I could see that in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates. My son could hear it in the music of Kendrick Lamar. A black president hadn't changed America. They knew that. We didn't want to believe that. Now we must strive to understand that.

Let's be honest, Donald Trump's campaign was run on fear. What we now know is that fear works. What Trump understood, and what white progressives ignored is that white America was afraid. It got Trump elected president. The fear of losing an illusive mirage of an America that has never, truly existed drove folks towards Trump at the end of the day. I did not believe a campaign of fear could win. I was so very wrong.

I wonder if it was mostly bluster. I wonder if he does not actually have the courage to act on the language he used. I would hope so. We will find out.

Here is where my anxiety lies: My concern is not what will happen on a governmental level--we do have checks and balances within our system and it moves at an often painfully slow pace. My concern is whether or not Trump's words will embolden behavior on the paved streets and gravel roads of America that deny the human dignity of each who live in this country. How will we continue to treat each other following this election?

Already we are being told by the media of the divide between urban centers with people of color and rural white America. We already knew that. But we cannot continue to demonize the "other"--those who look different, live different and vote different than us.

So, my anxiety lies with how we live now. Not with votes. As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor and my enemy. Now, more than ever, it is important that Christians live by this high calling. When Jesus explained what it meant to love one's neighbor he told a story of the "Good Samaritan." It is a tale that implies we are to get up close to our neighbor, close enough to understand their hopes and hurts and that we sacrifice for their well being. His story also implies that the outsider, the more likely assumed to be an enemy, is indeed our neighbor. Many are saying white Christians made this election. If you accept the label as Christian in America this morning, I ask, Will you live like one?

Will you listen long enough to understand the hopes and hurts of your neighbor?

Will you break bread with them and sacrifice for them?

On the paved streets and gravel roads of America is where we will find out whether or not you do.