Saturday, November 19, 2016

Post-election America: Can we experience diversity without being divisive?

Regardless of who you voted for this year, you either have been let down because who you voted for didn’t win, or you will soon feel let down by your winning candidate since Presidents can’t deliver on all of their campaign-trail promises -- it’s simply impossible to accomplish all they pitch.  Disappointment is one thing, but our nation seems to be beyond disappointment.  

I’m not sure if upheaval is a strong enough word.  One year ago, no one could've predicted how this year’s tumultuous election would conclude.  This has been the craziest year, politically speaking -- the Presidential campaign was a banal circus that brought out the worst in too many of us.   This much is clear, following the results of the election, we are extremely divided as a nation, we are polarized, we are majorly at odds with each other.

Sadly, our nation is radially divided along party lines, by ideologies, race, and religion.  We are not in a healthy condition; we need healing soon.  Christians should be asking: How can the church help bind up our nation’s wounds?  

The Book of Romans in the New Testament was written to a divided group of Christians.  Without going into too much of the tedious history of the period, the church in Rome was disrupted when the Jewish people who started the church in Rome were forced to leave, while the gentiles who remained in Rome had grown in numbers, and then the Jewish believers later returned.  

What were the results in the church in ancient Rome?  It was a diverse group who had reunited, but they needed some guidance on how to get along.  Why?  They were as culturally and ethnically diverse as you could get, yet the Apostle Paul offers godly wisdom with the hope that the church in Rome could experience unity.  Had they given up, would we even be believers today?

How can the book of Romans help us?  It’s in Romans we learn how we can actively perpetuate a mindset that’s non-judgemental and accepting of those with whom we don’t see eye-to-eye with.  We gain valuable insights into the virtue of tolerance throughout the book of Romans.  

“Tolerance” gets a bad wrap in many Christian circles, but we need tolerance now more than ever.  The type of tolerance I’m recommending is not synonymous with relativism, or the claim, “What’s true for you, isn’t true for me.”  I believe in absolutes, truth, and moral standards that apply to everyone equally.  

Tolerance, in the healthiest form, is the idea of respecting people, of dialoguing, of actively listening, and of withholding judgement.  It’s the only way we can meet people with opposing views halfway.  

Here’s just a small sample from Romans to illustrate the point I’m trying to make, “[14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. [16] Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. [17] Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. [18] If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  (Romans 12:14-18 ESV)

Please continue to pray for our nation, that we may experience peace and harmony.  It really doesn’t matter who our President is because God is still in control, and, we are supposed to serve as His hands and feet in a wounded and broken world.  It’s really up to us to make the world a better place, it’s not the job of the government anyway.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

America, has it ever been "great" and where should we focus anyway?

Trump won his election by focusing his constituency's attention on the past, a past that many people see differently.  To be simplistic and direct in his branding, Trump repeated his mantra, "Make America great again"  It's the "again" that strikes a nerve with a varied demographic.

So, besides the fact the phrase was plagiarized (Ronald Reagan used that phrase when he ran for office) what's really wrong with the phrase?

It falls short because it's claiming a future that's tied to a past, a somewhat unshared past experience.  We can't go back in time, even if we wanted to, so its a waste of time to wax nostalgic.  Regardless if you think America once was great, we can agree that not everyone thinks so, in fact about 50% of the population takes issue with this phrase.

How can you govern effectively if half of your people feel alienated?  We could say, "Who cares? Let's move on." But that's not feasible in a democracy or a republic.  That type of "suck it up and get over it" stance only works under a totalitarian regime, and even then the cooperation is only a thinly veiled attempt to acquiesce to the leadership.  

I don't buy into any "privilege" movement, it seems to be denigrating to those who feel someone else is privileged.  I love what Donald Miller posted today on twitter, particularly the end of his post:

Click here for the link to Miller's post if that image was too small to read: "Victims love to call Heroes "Privileged"

I couldn't stand Hillary Clinton, so this post isn't about gnawing sour grapes because Trump won.  I'm interested in our nation finding some healing from our massive division.  So..., what would work better for Trump, if he wanted to united America, again?  Drop the word "again" from his slogan, and simply say "let's make America great, together"

I doubt Trump would take advice from someone of my station in life, but if I could give him advice that he'd listen to, that would be my piece of advice, forget about the past and look forward to a future we all can participate in.

Sadly, when you polish off the golden age, you find it's only a pile of pyrite.