I’m a slow processor. So here I am, two days after the election, finally pulling my thoughts together. Heck, it took me until Monday night (or maybe Tuesday morning) to decide for whom to cast my vote. Although, soon after the primaries I was pretty certain it wasn’t going to be one of the major party candidates. That is neither here nor there at this point. Except that I don’t regret my decision.
What grieves me now is the deep divide I see in the U.S. The fear and dread among some. The outright gloating among others. I’m sad. I looked forward November 9th so the vitriol would stop. But if anything, it seems to have increased for the time being. I am truly horrified by reports of racist acts by fringe Trump supporters. I’m also disgusted by the flag burnings and protest marches. Clinton and Obama have both urged Americans to lay aside their differences and work together. Can’t we all just get along?
What I really want to do is wrap my arms around my nation and say, “It’s going to be all right.”
It really is. I believe that. Maybe it’s because I was prepared to accept a Clinton presidency and I was leaning particularly hard on God for peace in the face of that. Maybe that’s why I have faith that we’ll survive the Trump presidency, too. Maybe it’s because my Republican roots run deep and even though I couldn’t get behind the man, I actually agree with his supposed positions on a lot of the issues (not all of them, though).
I hope the real reason is that I believe in redemption.
During this political season, I heard a lot of incredulity in response to Trump’s slogan. Make America great again? When was America really great? I mulled this over for months.
If you were a white man, it was great. And in the past one hundred years or so, if you’re a white man or woman, it’s pretty great for you. But maybe not if you’re Irish—depending on where you lived.
Before my lifetime, things were extremely difficult for our black brothers and sisters. We enslaved you, legally, for over a hundred years. And even since then, how far have we really come?
Early on, our government passed laws that forced Native Americans to leave the homes and families they loved. We gave them specific territories in which to live. Not so great for them.
If you were of Japanese descent during World War II, America wasn’t such a great place to be.
You all get the idea. America has historically been great for certain people groups. It's been great enough that a lot of people from around the world have wanted to come here. And still do.
I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be non-white in the U.S. I’m attempting to understand it better. I’m trying to listen.
I spend a good deal of time researching and writing about America in the 1800’s. A period in history when things were especially dark for black people.
Recently I remembered the reason I do this. It’s not to focus on the wrong we’ve done to each other. The purpose of my writing is not to exorcise the demons of slavery and oppression.
It’s undeniable. People in our country--people around the world--are capable of great evil. I know this and I see it in my own heart.
But my purpose in writing about this time period is to celebrate those who stood up for what was right. I want to draw attention to the abolitionists. The fugitive slaves who fought for their freedom against all odds. The white and black people who worked together to help bring about change. Most of them were following God’s guidance. Their steadfastness is staggering.
When people give their lives to God, anything is possible. It’s not about who sits in the oval office. Who is on the throne in your heart? That’s what makes the difference. And that’s why I’m cautiously optimistic today. There’s a lot to worry about. Much to be afraid of if we focus on the negative messages. But I know the final chapter. Everything will be okay in the end.
Before my political party, before my nationality, I am a Christ follower. Hopelessly flawed, yes. But redeemed by the One who created and loves us all. Therefore I have hope.
Jesus said it best . . . and this is the message I want to offer those of you living in fear right now.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27