My Facebook feed today has, not surprisingly, been filled with responses to last night’s results. I have to admit that I was more caught up in the event itself than I ever thought I would be. It was about 10:30 p.m. when I realised that Trump might actually pull it off that I decided what the hell, I haven’t slept well lately anyways and they should have this figured by 12:30 a.m. or so and why not stay up for it? Trump actually winning would be something to see, regardless of personal views on the man himself. By 1:00 when they still hadn’t called it I gave up and went to sleep. Anyways, back to the post at hand. In all of those posts and comments on social media (and I apologise in advance for adding yet another one to that particular multitude), I noticed a couple of things I wanted to comment on.
First of all, I am fortunate enough to have friends with views right across the political spectrum. I have also, in my desire to reach out to people of differing views, been following news pages from a wide variety of backgrounds. The end result is that on Facebook in particular I’ve seen reactions to last night from both sides of this thing. Some are ecstatic that Trump won, some are terrified, and others (like me) are cautiously optimistic. What caught my eye, however, was that these comments and responses represent not only differing opinions but also differing worldviews and narratives. The directions from which both sides approached last night’s results are so different as to not even be on the same compass. Even more alarming is that neither side has seemed all that willing to step outside of their own viewpoint to see things from the other direction. Take for example the divisiveness that characterises this country at present. One comment I found from the Republican view was that this was a product of the Obama era and something that Trump will now have to deal with. The corresponding Democrat view is that this divisiveness is a direct result of how Trump ran his election campaign. The crazy part is that neither view can be totally dismissed. I’ve seen arguments for both, and they are both somewhat credible. The bottom line is that we seem to be divided not just in our opinions but also in the narratives we ascribe to and the basis we use for making judgement calls on events like last night
Church for Misfits has always been a place for people of all backgrounds and viewpoints to interact in a dignified and respectful manner. If you’re reading this and in the near future you find yourself engaged with someone who disagrees with you, reach out to them. Try to understand. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find that we’re not that different after all, and who knows, we might be able to put some of this divisiveness to rest. Please hear me when I say that, although I am a conservative myself, I am not writing this solely for Republican supporters to “win over” Democrats. This kind of respectful interaction goes both ways.
The other thing I wanted to comment on is that there a lot of people out there right now who are very afraid of how things will look going forward. If my understanding is correct, this administration will see a Republican President, a Republican majority in the Senate, and a Republican majority in Congress (at least for the next 2 years). What that boils down to is that Trump can accomplish a lot if he wants to and this is what has people terrified. Those posting on LGBT pages in particular are singularly freaked out by this. Trump has, as I’ve written elsewhere, raised the possibility of reversing the legal position on same sex marriage in this country, effectively stripping that right from those who fought so hard to get it. This community is genuinely frightened at this prospect, and rightfully so. What’s even more upsetting is that Christians in general have fought to oppose these rights, and now we are seen largely as the enemy. The very people we should be reaching out to see us as the enemy. I know I’m hitting the same points over and over again in these political posts, but for me at least it’s a major concern. They will be watching us as Christians as the coming weeks and months unfold, and I’m not at all sure what they will see. Will we reach out to them in love and respect? My own experiences with Christianity tell me we probably won’t, but I’m still hopeful.
At the very least, this is not the time to become guilty of the things we are already accused of being. Are there political developments from the last few years I’d like to see changed? Yes. Obamacare tops that particular list. I grew up in Canada, where we have a universal healthcare system that isn’t perfect but which gets the job done far more effectively (and cheaply) than that hot mess. I’d like to see it replaced by something that doesn’t hit my paycheck so hard. That being said, I don’t want to see us fight to restore a Christian culture in the U.S. while totally missing out on the fight that we should be focusing on. We will, I expect, fight to put traditional marriage back in place as the only legal definition of marriage. We will do so despite the fact that more than half of these marriages end in divorce and there are, in reality, gay marriages that outlast traditional ones. They will see that, and they will judge us, and the God we serve, accordingly. What if, instead, they could see us reach out to a broken world and truly engage with those around us? What if we offered hope, respect, and love? Imagine how they would see Jesus then.