After one of the longest and most negative campaigns in US history, many hoped that our lives would go back to normal come November 9th: no more ads on tv, no more divisive Facebook posts, no more talking about politics in everyday life.
And certainly no posts on Breaking in the Habit about politics.
Unfortunately (and my deepest apologies about that last one), that is not where we are. In some ways, the political talk has increased in number and severity. Protests have begun. Arguments have flared up even more on Facebook. People are retreating to their corners—proudly victorious or ashamedly crushed—to remain as far apart as ever.
There exists a great divide in our society and in our Church.
And as much as we can point to the outcome of the presidential election as the direct cause of this added division and turmoil, that, had it have gone differently—had our candidate won, or had “X” won the primary instead—there would not likely be the crazy turmoil we face now—numerous protests, spike in hate crimes and planned KKK rally—the fact of the matter is this election did not cause our problems… it simply brought them to light.
The problems of hatred and divisiveness we feel in our society and Church today existed long before these candidates ran for office. And they will exist after them too.
No matter how one feels about either candidate (and Lord knows there are some strong and diverse opinions among BitH readers) neither one is ultimately responsible for situation we are in. Donald Trump did not create racism, sexism, or xenophobia; the fact that he exhibits such behavior and has emboldened people to express such sentiments more publicly in recent months is disappointing, but those things existed, silently and not-so-silently, long before him. Hillary Clinton did not create abortion; the fact that she supports it as a policy is disappointing, but people were getting abortions long before Hillary voiced her support of it.
In many ways, what we see in these candidates (both the things we love and hate) is not so much something new or transformative, an attempt to convince people to adopt an altogether new opinion. No, what we see in these candidates is a reflection of the world we live in and how we treat each other. As radical as one may find either’s policies or rhetoric, what they have presented is merely the calculated sum of opinions that were held before them and will be held after them.
I point this out, not to downplay the effect that this election has had on the nation or to somehow diminish the power that the president can have on shaping its future (as Mr. Trump’s formidable 100 day plan indicates.) I point this out to say that, no matter who was elected on November 8th, the destructive opinions of the losing party were not simply going to go away, and the constructive opinions of the winning party were not going to solve everything.
As Christians, those who only have one King (and He’s in heaven), we knew from the start that the winner of this election would not be able to bring us the Kingdom we await. No matter who won and no matter what positive policies were put into place, we knew that there were gaps that needed to be filled and areas of justice needing defending. We knew, no matter how much we liked one candidate over the other, that it was not up to him/her to be our savior, and that, in some ways, they would even bring trouble. We knew that.
And so, as much as we were all hoping to our lives would go back to normal, that we could check out and let others take care of our problems, we’ve always known that that could never be the case. Voting for and electing officials is an important part of our life as Christians, but it is never the end in itself; we vote for and elect officials as means to a greater end, a just and peaceful society for all to authentically develop. Let’s never stop short of that end, and never forget that our work has just begun.