It is Saturday afternoon, and most news agencies are forecasting that Joe Biden is the next President of the US. That doesn’t make it true of course. There are processes to be completed and the final word will come on December 14 when the Electoral College meets and votes. That said, it is very likely that Biden has defeated Trump.
Anyone who reads my blogs knows I didn’t vote for either. So, I am not depressed, nor am I exultant. I am however intrigued and I am becoming more than a little disappointed. Here are some reasons.
- There is a tone-deafness in this country that I find astounding. Those who supported Trump can’t believe he was voted out—especially with the help of Christians—so the obvious answer must be that there was illegal activity. Those who supported Biden crow about the “mandate” from the people because of the highest popular vote in American history—ignoring the fact that the second highest total—over 70 million people—was just won by Donald Trump. There is no mandate. There is division.
- Many on the left are wondering aloud how anyone could have voted for Trump given his racism, obvious immoral character and conservative policies. But they forget an important point: Biden won because so many people who AGREE with many conservative policies voted AGAINST Trump because of his racism and immorality. It is important to note that a large number voted against Trump, not for Biden.
- The celebrations which I see even Christian friends participating in have already turned ugly. I just saw a FB post (yes, I know, I am still on it) proclaiming we are UNITED at last, followed by a 2 ½ minute video mocking those with whom they disagree.
- In the midst of this division, the dominant themes are “How could they…” (about both “sides”) and “I don’t care anymore, I just wish it was over.” While I can understand these sentiments—especially the second—I find myself astounded at one basic fact. No one is listening—still! If anything, both sides are hunkering down for an extended fight. Those on the far left are actually threatening the presumptive President-Elect—he had better do what they want or else. Those on the far right are demonizing everyone else and predicting doom and gloom—a prediction that has a way of being self-fulfilling when it is made by enough people.
You who think “we did it—fought racism, bigotry, disunity,…and won!” are the same as those on the right whom you demonize. In fact, from my perspective, you are the reason Donald Trump ever got elected in the first place. So, forgive my bluntness, but this is what I see happening:
When you say “I can’t understand (complete the sentence with anything you like)”, perhaps it is because you haven’t tried.
–You don’t listen, you accuse.
–You don’t search for middle ground, you myopically focus on your differences.
–You don’t listen to legitimate concerns of others, you proclaim you don’t have to because you won.
–You don’t see others as human beings, but as enemies (Yes, I’m quoting from leaders on both sides).
–In short, you don’t understand—and will never understand—until you SHUT UP AND LISTEN.
I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and I see America as a worldly state destined to be destroyed. That said, true Christians represent Jesus to the world—we don’t try to turn those in the world against one another. (Here is where someone always tells me about the “Christians” who do behave that way. All I can say is, being imperfect, we all falter. BUT, if someone habitually behaves sinfully, the Bible says plainly that they do not belong to Jesus—they are NOT Christian, regardless of what they call themselves.) So, I offer these observations as someone who would love to see real change in America. Here are some ideas I offer in the spirit of Peacemaking.
- 1. Realize that all humans are flawed (sin) and until that is addressed, nothing else will change. I recommend Jesus—the one through whom all things was created, and from whom sin has divided us—as the solution to that problem.
- Proverbs says: “He who speaks before he hears is a fool” (Proverbs 18:13). If you truly don’t understand someone else (or a group of someone elses), ask one of them to talk to you. Tell them you don’t understand… and ask them to help you understand. Then listen—without interrupting—with your only goal to understand the other.
- Focus on what you agree on. Despite the rhetoric, virtually no one really thinks racism is good. However, evil cannot be overcome by evil (Romans 12:17). The sinful domination of one race or group by another cannot be “fixed” by simply changing who dominates whom. Instead of decrying white privilege, we should be decrying the LACK of black (brown, Asian…) privilege. So, how do we change things so that everyone has these advantages?
- Guard your mouth. The scripture says the tongue is like the source of a wildfire—once a blaze is started, it cannot be undone (James 3:5). Now more than ever, we need to be quick to listen and slow to speak (that passage, James 1:19, adds “and slow to anger” showing that they are connected!). Before you speak and before you write, ask what your words really mean. Are they helpful? If not, stop them before they escape from you!
- Treat others—especially those with whom you disagree—with love (again, this won’t happen without the spiritual strength that comes from Jesus). In the middle of a major disagreement with a number of people, the Apostle Paul—who knew he was right because the Holy Spirit was guiding him—said he would forego his own rights to avoid hurting “those for whom Christ died”. (1 Corinthians 8:11)
We need to learn that love and civility does not require agreement. I disagree vehemently with many policies and beliefs of both the right and the left. However, I am instructed by my King to love them—that is, do whatever is best for them (the word translated “love” in this command has nothing to do with how we feel).
Today can be the start of something great. But, unless there is widespread repentance and change, it will simply be an acceleration of division and even hatred that will tear its victims apart.
Know Jesus and be Faithful!