If you were addressing the nation on Wednesday, Nov. 7, the DAY AFTER the election, what would you say? What advice would you offer to your fellow Americans about the next four years?
Waking up on November 7, the day after all of the electoral hoopla is over, how would it be in our community if people of faith took a moment to ask, “Now what?”
Those whose candidates won might be tempted to breathe a deep sigh of relief. Similarly, those whose preferred candidates lost might be equally tempted to despair. We seem to be at a place in our culture that we put a high premium on the power of one – one leader, one perspective, one party – that we neglect the true value of many.
Isn’t it more than a little naïve to think that one elected official should (much less could) change everything that we want? Whatever energy and attention we have expended over the past months (years?!) grousing about the way things are, how would it be if we spent even a fraction of that energy praying for others and involved in practicing careful speech that unites instead of divides, builds up instead of tears down?
If the other person or other party comes out on top we have to choose whether we will grumble about that and immediately jump to the conclusion that all is wrong, lost, and otherwise worthless. Or, will we engage the divisive passion that seems to come all too naturally in partisan politics and instead compassionately pursue the “still more excellent way” of which Scripture speaks?
Four years ago, just after the last election cycle finished, I clipped a couple of lines from a writer who said, “Imagine if all the people in America who claim to believe in God actually prayed for their leaders? Or spent one-tenth as much time in seeking the heart of God as they do in griping?” What a notion, right?!
Perhaps when it’s over – when the yard signs are coming down, the ad campaigns replaced by the all-too-early commercials for Christmas shopping – perhaps that’s the time to recommit ourselves to prayer that builds up instead of tears down. Perhaps that’s the time to put into practice the values we espouse as members of faith communities far more significant than any national identity we claim. Perhaps when all of that is over, that’s precisely the time to start again, in our homes, our churches, our community, the common work of loving God and neighbor together.