Sunday, November 13, 2016
Heal the Land
Like millions of fellow Americans, I watched election results and listened to commentary until the early morning hours last Wednesday. In the days that have followed, I've had many conversations with friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and students. I've read dozens of articles by authors with multiple perspectives.
Only one thing is remarkably clear: our country needs healing.
This weekend, my head hurt from thinking about all the things that are grossly wrong in America: the racism, the discord, the aggression, the pride, the unproductive methods of problem-solving, the inability to listen, the entitlement, the divisiveness. Collectively, we're not doing too well.
Acts of violence and hate-laced threats have been leveraged against minorities and underrepresented populations. Tweets and social media posts have called for a presidential assassination and the razing of Trump's properties. I don't care what candidate you favored: none of this demonstrates love trumping hate.
When I teach, I encourage my college students to write, speak, and think with precision. Avoid sweeping generalizations, I say. A wide brush will help you to paint a barn, not a masterpiece.
In this vein, when I hear rash generalizations categorizing all people who voted for a singular candidate, I balk. We cannot distill every single person who voted for Trump as a hate-mongering racist, although some are. (And, to be clear, racism, sexism, and too many other -isms are not dead in America.) Neither can we assume that every person who voted for Hillary is an immoral liberal who condones late-term abortions or shady email servers.
It's not that simple, these broad strokes we use to paint ourselves a picture of humanity and understand others who don't think like us. It's never that simple.
This morning, I volunteered in our church nursery and cared for six sweet babies: one black, three white, and two biracial. These babies have no idea who the next president will be, but what happens in the years to come -- how we, as adults, will respond to these very circumstances -- will profoundly affect their lives. As I spoke with the parents after service, I couldn't help but think that they and I, as fellow flawed humans, have more in common than what separates us. Even if we stumble, we're striving toward a common goal: to serve God and love others as He loved us.
Due to my husband's position as the chaplain for Penn State football, each Monday we eat dinner with the team. Weekly, I watch the interactions between black and white coaches, trainers, staff, and players. They sit, eat, talk, joke, and laugh together. They refer to others in the room as family. They're working toward a common goal: to be the best football team possible. That mission of greatness drives them forward together; they know they can't win if they're not united.
These two scenarios -- my observations from a church nursery and a team dining hall -- remind me that now, more than ever, we must remember that common causes, whether serving God or winning football games, draws people together, even if those people might not look, think, or inherently be alike.
America, we must have a common cause to be a strong and decent country that honors and respects all people. We can't forget that we're on the same team, and our team can't win if we're not united. Of course, being united doesn't necessarily mean agreeing. (Let's be real. My family of five doesn't regularly agree on what we should eat for dinner, and we're not an entire nation comprised of vastly divergent ideologies deliberating over complex economic or legislative policies.)
But let's come together where we can. If you're praying person, as I am, then pray with your whole heart, even if that prayer is as primal as, "Lord, help us." Simple and raw prayers are valid, especially when it's hard to string together coherent words and thoughts, a position in which I've often found myself this past week while mulling over the election and our country's status.
I'm especially drawn to 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Our land needs to be healed. Nobody disagrees with that. It starts with us. We must humble ourselves. We must turn from our wicked ways. We, who call ourselves by His name, must seek God's face.
Lord, help us.
Image compliments of John M. Cropper
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