Like many of you, I look forward to the end of this election season. I am ready for us to move on. I am ready to turn our eyes toward other important issues facing our nation and world today. But, we still need to elect a new president. I pray the results land lightly and decisively, whatever they may be.
My mom shared this line she heard recently, "We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope it's not the train."
No one (in their right mind) wants to be pulverized against metal train tracks by metal train wheels. And so, who ever you are planning to vote for (national, state and local government) you have your reasons. Reasons you believe keep you and yours headed in the right direction.
We all approach these decisions with different stories behind us and ways of life before us. While we may not understand each others' decisions we need to take the time to think about how someone arrived at their place of decision. Most people don't simply pull a name out of a hat. They have a feeling (sometimes visceral) that propels them down a certain line of thought. And from that place they choose to support one candidate over the other, one party over the other.
We need to respect this, even honor this. People are people are people. We have all been disappointed, hurt, confused, and, sadly, often worse: betrayed, abused, lost. We have all been drawn to different causes, injustices and wrongs. How wonderful! A full body of people collectively caring about the world.
But then we disagree on how to move forward.
We shout our opinions over other opinions.
We don't listen to each other.
We get off track.
Passion over a legitimate concern turns to anger, blame, distrust, fear, violence, death threats?
We shut down.
Our spirits die.
If only we could go back to a time when every thing was simpler and problems were simpler and people were simpler and technology was simpler and our jobs were simpler and raising a family was simpler and our minds were simpler and we gulped Coca-Cola Classic from a glass bottle. Everything was in black and white. Like television.
Everyone knows (even if it's deep down in their belly buttons) that this is impossible. For example, my family and I could move to back to Baltimore, sure. But it wouldn't be the same! Some of the good things would still be there, but so would some of the not so good. And I know (even though some times I have to search down deep in my belly button) that the best choice for me and my family is to keep moving forward from where we are right now. Forwarding our ties and relationships, our purposes and our pleasures from this place. Not losing steam and letting ourselves roll back.
I doubt it's my story alone, but I can't see the benefit of allowing ourselves to be ruled to move and make decisions based on fear and distrust of the way things are now, pining for the past. Not liking some things? Sure. Disagreeing with some things? Totally.
Wanting to work to reform, change, better, progress?
Call me naive, but I am a believer. I am a believer in the best of people. I am a believer in hope and justice and peace. I am a believer in equality and the power of goodness. And (to use a simple word) dag-nabbit, I am a believer in politics. Which basically means I am a believer in community, groups of people living and loving (and learning) and working and worrying (and re-working) together.
During this campaign season, I have spent most of my time volunteering in the Geauga County Democrats Headquarters. Walking into this place, you know it's been around since "times were simpler." The large gathering side of the office is lined with blue vinyl booths and the tables and bar area are lined with chrome. But the activity in this place is far from simple despite the fact that Geauga is the reddest county in Northeast Ohio. There are people in this place fighting for the county parks and community centers, celebrating financial donations from local unions and debating next steps to forward local campaigns for County Commissioner.
And then there I am, on the other side of the wall making quiet calls for Hillary. Of course I feel that what I am doing matters and is important. But the real action happens on the streets in our own neighborhoods and towns, not turned inward and balled up under our desks. Here I go believing again, but truly, if we want to grow in unity we need to move from the inside out, from the local to the national, from the national to the global.
Simply, I believe that this is what God, the One who creates and sustains us all, is using us to accomplish. Unity. And when I say unity, I don't mean uniformity, not by any means. The beauty of unity is that it is not uniform. Unity takes all kinds of people and places and ideas and beliefs and rolls them into a beacon of light and love. Uniformity is boring and flat and not dynamic enough to move mortar much less mountains.
Unity: a school humming along and delighting in learning, a family prioritizing each other and delighting in loving, a town overlooking party lines and delighting in serving.
So yes, I look forward to the end of this election season because I am ready for us to move on. I am excited for us to move on! Some one has to be. I believe we can (and will!) move past this season of painful divisiveness and continue building toward united-ness.
Praise God, we have no other choice.