I think it’s safe to say that we are all, in some way, glad that this current political election is finally over. It has been a whirlwind and a mess. With accusations of every kind being hurdled at each opponent, all of which we should not be okay with seeing in a person who could be our next president.
It’s been heated, and not just among the presidential candidates. I’ve met very few people who do not have some kind of opinion about this current election that we’ve had. Some feel that Hillary would only bring about socialistic ideas and implement them into a country that has worked hard to keep out fascism. Others think that Trump has made it abundantly clear that he no longer thinks our country is for other people and that anyone who wasn’t born on American soil doesn’t belong here. And those are just two examples.
I know we hear (especially those of us in more conservative circles) a lot about what our “founding fathers” would have wanted us to do. How they’d be rolling over in their graves if they knew what was going on in the country that they established. And perhaps this is true. But I hear the term so much that I’m tempted to ask, “Do we really know what they would have wanted?” Or do we just say that whatever idea I’m promoting is what they would have wanted, so that my idea sounds legitimate? How many of us know anything at all about our founding fathers other than what we remember from high school American history and what we’ve heard others say on the nightly news? Maybe some people do. It’s an honest question.
The main thing I’ve taken from the past year or more of campaigning is that it is very easy for us to get behind ideas that others present to us. It’s very easy to follow them, whether that means I now hate every democrat or republican in the country, whether it means I get violent when I’m telling others about the ideas I support, whether it means arguing to the death with someone else until they have heard every point I have to make and decide to agree. Without a thought as to how we are actually behaving, we follow them. And for what? So that the “other side” will be convinced? I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but IT’S NOT ACTUALLY WORKING.
I don’t think we’re doing it to convince them, I think we’re doing it to try to prove that we’re right. Above all else, no matter what you say “I’m right and you’re wrong!” is the message. Forgive me, but this sounds to me more like something between a child who isn’t intelligent enough to debate and conduct themselves in a sensible way and some form of mob mentality that just forces their opinions on every one else around them.
I’m not going to claim that I know any more than you about our founding fathers, but I’m willing to bet that they were reasonable people, I think we know by their work that they could think for themselves, and they didn’t seem to spend a lot of time throwing slander at each other when they disagreed. Maybe they got heated, but I bet they stuck to the facts instead of acting like children.
Perhaps you are a reasonable person as well. Maybe you were never part of any of the harsh Facebook comment wars, maybe you never went to any violent rally, maybe you’ve never tried to prove to someone else that what you think is right no matter what they say. If so, you’re a step ahead. Keep it up.
And then I feel like there is the other side to this. The people who say “God is in control.” or “It doesn’t matter who we vote for because God is going to choose the next president.” Of course I believe that God is in control, but that doesn’t give us the right to stand by and not participate. He works in and through us here on earth. We live in a cultural moment that calls for us to figure out what the right thing is to do and then do it. No matter the cost.
I’ve been reading a lot of material about WWII lately and have learned different things from several different stories, I highly recommend studying the era. One such story is that of Hans and Sophie Scholl. These were a brother and sister who lived in Germany during the height of WWII, they were in college at the time and they were Christians. Hans and Sophie learned about some of the things Hitler was implementing that were not so readily available to view by the public and then started publishing pamphlets with the information in an effort to expose Hitler to the country under his rule. They passed out the pamphlets anonymously to their school and in the city beyond. When someone asked Hans Scholl why he chose to do this his response was simple. ” I am a Christian and I am German, therefore I am responsible for Germany.”
One day when Sophie Scholl was walking down an upstiars corridor at her school she noticed a stack of pamphlets that had not yet been passed out. The corridor was empty so she walked up to the stack and pushed them quickly over the wall to be scattered on the floor below. A custodian happened to see her and reported her that day to the Gestapo. Sophie and her brother were executed by guillotine four days later.
Corrie ten Boom and her family is another story of people who did not sit by and let the work be done by someone else. They took people in just as they always had and helped them when injustice was being done. Her entire family along with a few friends and underground workers were sent to prison eventually for what they did. But they also helped save hundreds of people. And they did all of this under the Lord’s leading as Corrie so plainly describes in her book “The Hiding Place”.
And then there are all the stories I’ve learned of what our men in uniform did during that war to keep us free. They did not stand idly by. There are stories of young boys killing themselves because they could not enlist, so much was their duty, they felt, to stop Germany, Japan and Italy from taking over the world. If they had stood idly by, if they had not endured the hell that they endured. Where would we be?
Not getting involved is throwing their sacrifices back in their faces.
I don’t know about you but I will not be so self-righteous that I refuse to help a hurting and broken world full of God’s people under the pretense that He is sovereign and doesn’t need me to fix anything.
What I mean to say is this : we LOVE to talk about which political candidate we most disagree with, we love to say what we think about how their policies will destroy our country, we even love to joke about moving to Canada if things go south any further. But why not stop talking and pointing the finger, why not take a moment, a deep breath and look around. Then ask, what can I do for myself, my family, my state and my country. And then get to work. Because operating under the belief that our voice means nothing because we aren’t powerful enough is absolute foolishness. And standing here saying what we think someone else should do, even if that someone else is the president, doesn’t get anything done. So stop talking and start living it.
Someone who puts these things much more graciously then I is Eric Metaxis in his new book “If you can keep it.” I’m rereading it for the second time at the moment because the first time around brought me to tears and made me see America in a way I haven’t seen her since I was a child. He talks about loving your country and the things we should do to cultivate that, he talks about his own experience falling in love with this country and her people and what it means to recognize the problems but remain hopeful. And most importantly, to get involved in making her better. Because one man or woman with all the executive orders in the world can’t do that on their own. It’s up to us, her people.
And that means looking past ourselves, asking what we can do, seeing our fellow Americans (whether democrats or republicans) as fellow Americans and not as some other worldly creature trying to take over the country. It means being willing to listen to the “other side” without looking for a place to prove them wrong. You never know, you might actually find out why you disagree with them instead of just that you do. It means being more focused on what you can do to improve your immediate and widespread circle rather than being more focused on who you can out argue.
These things are elementary. I think we can handle it, right? And maybe in the process, we will make our founding fathers proud to call us fellow Americans.
Here is a list of the books that have influenced me so and taught me so much about our great nation and her people recently :
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxis
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis
Hans and Sophie Scholl : German Resisters of the White Rose by Toby Axelrod
These are a few of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. Enjoy. 🙂