Three weeks and then what?
I heard a message in church Sunday that was centered in politics -- not the way you may be thinking. It was not a message praising a particular party or bashing a particular candidate. Rather, it was a message of unity, regardless of party affiliation, a message that implored us to stand together as brothers and sisters no matter the Nov. 8 outcome. "God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. God is not an independent. God is not really even an American. God is God," I heard. It was a message of grace and mercy, of faith that our best days are ahead of us as Christians -- no matter what.
We were reminded that "easy" was never promised. Laws may be changed. Freedoms may be threatened. Culture may be shifting. Nonetheless, our hope will not fail. We are to bring that hope into every situation and not resort to bitterness and fear and mudslinging. In spite of what we see, hear and feel, we lift up one another. While all hell breaks lose, those with faith in God -- not in politicians -- continue to be lights in the midst of darkness. When we awake on Nov. 9, whichever candidate has won the election will have our prayers. He or she will need our prayers. WE will need our prayers. We cannot be so sidetracked by fruitless fighting that we fail to unite and pray.
This is a timely message for several reasons.
First, there are those who have lost focus. They have turned their eyes on a politician. A particular politician, they believe, is either their savior or their demise. While I know the person we elect is significant -- very, with much on the line -- the truth is a politician is not our answer. One person can only do so much. One person is not the solution we seek. And one person should not be given such control over our emotions that we are thrown into extreme highs and record lows based on who that person is. Man and woman are fallible.
Second, we the people are as important as any politician or movement. As was brought out in Sunday's message, WE are the movement. Some are sitting back and praying God does it all. Others are reaching forward to politicians, expecting them to move the meter in a particular direction. But WE have to look in the mirror, look at ourselves, and ask, "What part do I play in advancing principles I deem valuable?" If the preservation of religious liberty matters, "What am I doing to protect it?" If respect for life grips my heart, "How might I make a difference?" If the improvement of race relations stirs me on the inside, "How might my passion be utilized?"
You can be that catalyst for change or that anchor to prevent unwanted change. You can be the movement or you can wait to be moved. I tell young people, "You often find your purpose in two ways: what excites you and what annoys you." The thing you love is a hint to what you have been called to do. But do not underestimate what that thing you hate indicates also. Perhaps it bothers you because you -- yes, you -- have been called to fix it.
Third, this election season has not been a unifying one. Someone will emerge the winner and someone the loser in just three weeks. Then what? I read comments on columns like this one in which people speak of -- and to -- others using ugly, hurtful words. Some are clearly determined to disagree, simply because of the political persuasion of the person they are addressing. Others name-call because they can hide behind a computer or the newspaper. It's bad enough when people treat strangers this way, but some have actually alienated family and abandoned friends during the last year-and-a-half -- because of politics. After the election, when politicians do what politicians do, which often entails ignoring what they said they would do, will those relationships be healed? I posted on social media Friday:
"Excuse my Ebonics Â… : You got 25 days till Election Day to figure out how to make up with the family and friends you done kicked to the curb over some politicians you don't even know. Might I suggest chocolate? That usually does the trick!"
I wrote that half-jokingly, but my point is a serious one. Let love, mercy and hope triumph over politics.
Adrienne Ross is an author, speaker, columnist, editor, educator and Southeast Missourian editorial board member. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.