I know I said I was going to write an individual post for both sides of the aisle in order to give both sides a chance to look at the reasons people may have voted the way they did. I changed my mind, so sue me. (Don’t really, though. You’ll be very disappointed.) That said, I had some conversations this past weekend, over the Thanksgiving holiday, which helped me to boil down the issue into a more helpful one-post kind of situation.
Many Americans voted scared. Some were scared of racism, sexism, bigotry, of having their rights revoked, ignored or trampled on. Others were scared of facing corruption, liberal supreme court appointees, or watching their views mocked and derided. Both political parties used fear to turn out their respective voters, and so many responded exactly as the parties desired.
As a Millennial, I understand fear. I grew up in it. I was in my formative years when we experienced 9/11 and the subsequent fear-driven legislation that we have yet to repeal because we still maintain our fear. Since that day, America has been at “war” with one thing or another, this abstract idea called “terrorism.” Do I believe that there are people who harbor evil intent in their hearts and seek to influence others to also participate in that evil? Yes. But is fear helpful in these situations? No. Our movies and television, 24-hour news networks, and social media only compound the rate at which fear can grow and gnaw on our better intentions. Fear can be helpful in certain circumstances, but constant fear can only harm, decay, and ultimately kill unity and love.
If Americans had been more level-headed, neither of these candidates would have had any ground to stand on. Some states are even initiating a “None of the Above” option on their ballots. Honestly, I agree with that option and Dan Carlin when he argues that we should have a federal-level “none of the above” option that forces all candidates on that ballot to pull out and parties to present new candidates. Shame we didn’t have that option this go-around.
Our fear has gotten out of control. We are out of control. And, no, I’m not just talking about the election. We have cloistered ourselves away as if we were hermits avoiding the temptations of the world. It takes a special kind of person to live that life, and most of us aren’t that special. Ask yourself where you get your information. Does it challenge you or confirm you? Does it manage to do some of both? If you are never challenged by information, by stories, by conversations, you may be well on your way to fear.
Perfect love drives out fear. And I’m tired of being afraid all of the time. I’m sick of hearing how one group or the other is causing all of our problems. We as a people are the cause of our trouble. If our country has internal issues, we need to remember that this place has a government of, by, and for the people. If there’s a problem, we’re part of it… all of us. We’re either perpetrating, complicit, or complacent. Blaming others is weakness, fear, and entirely un-American.
Advent has started, which is typically a chance for the church to stop and reflect what it means that God became human. I would also say that this year Advent is also a time to reflect on what it means that God is King. If God is King, then rulers and authorities mean a little less. If God’s Kingdom has already come and has been breaking through since Jesus taught and healed, then relying on a government to fix the world’s problems begins to seem less useful, if not entirely foolish.
Luke begins his account of Jesus’ birth with the words, in the days of Caesar Augustus. If that seemed like just a side-note to you, look again. Luke is subtly pointing to the moment that Caesar, the great worldly power, begins to diminish and God’s Kingdom breaks through. God’s Kingdom enters the world through a baby, born in poverty, and visited by the lowest of the low. God didn’t choose a government or emperor.
So as this trip through Willy Wonka’s horror tunnel of a year comes to a close and as Christmas draws closer. Let’s take some time to reflect on our fear, and then begin to dismantle it. Let us instead put on the full armor of God and begin acting on behalf of the poor, the outcast, the fearful, and the weak, because Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.