Here’s a friendly reminder that the term of a new president is approaching. There are some who are elated, some despairing, and some unsure how to feel. I have seen articles and counter-articles covering each and every event and social media posting. I have heard angry people shout names that they would be ashamed of if they heard the recording. I have seen people share hateful messages with a glee that borders on malice. Regardless of how you feel about the incoming government, here are some things to consider.
First, the office of the president does deserve respect. I have honestly been rather disgusted with the way people have spoken about President Obama and President-Elect Trump. I have been especially disgusted with the way Christ followers have spoken of these men, people who, as James put it, try to use the same mouth for praising God and cursing others. Please think carefully about how you talk about those in authority. Respectful dialogue and tones do not rule out disagreement but do lead to more productive discussions. Remember, your kids are always listening, and other peoples’ kids are listening, too. If you want to end the bickering, fighting, backstabbing, and name-calling, then be the first to stop.
Second, put your trust in God and quit panicking. If fear is your motivator, then you will make mistakes. I recently did an Escape room and missed escaping by 2 seconds because I panicked and missed calling out a single number for the door code. Fear causes us not to be sharper, more vigilant citizens but half-crazed vigilantes always looking under the bed for the next political boogeyman. Do what you can, call your representatives if you need to, and leave the rest to God. Love others, and be confident in God’s love, because perfect love drives out fear.
Lastly, always check your sources. It is all I can do not to name and shame people on Facebook for posting shoddily written articles built on shaky evidence. Ask yourself a couple of questions while reading each article (or headline), “Where’s the money from this article going ? (i.e. Who’s advertising?)” and “Who stands to benefit from this?” If an article appears to be too good to be true, it’s probably not entirely true. All sources are biased, but the trustworthy ones are aware of it and work to balance their reporting. Good sources are fair, and try to present both sides well. The mark of a poor thinker, writer, and citizen is to be unable to articulate the opposing side’s viewpoint.
If we, as Americans, are tired of the mud slinging and ceaseless prattle, we should educate ourselves on the viewpoints of all sides. We should challenge ourselves to walk in the shoes of another person. We should be willing to sit at the table and eat and discuss with those whose opinions differ from us. We should, unsurprisingly, work to model our lives on the self-giving character of Jesus.
Again, we need reminding from time to time, but this nation is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The government can only be as good as we are. And that, my friends, is what should cause us to start working on ourselves.