Kevin’s Conversations: Both Sides Now…
Great choices we had. Of course, neither candidate was all bad, they had some good qualities if you looked hard enough. But while I’m no historian, I think we’d be very hard pressed to find an election where the choices were worse.
Part of me wants to see the Trump presidency go up in flames. To bring validation to my belief that Donald Trump is a bad man and that he could turn out to be a terrible president. To be able to say I told you so to that group of Christians who chose to rationalize and minimize his greatly troubling flaws and enthusiastically supported the man.
But that is my carnal side. In truth, I really don’t want this (most of the time, anyway). Because a bad Trump presidency will be bad for America and it’s people. To a further extent, even bad for the world. So, I will pray for the man and for good things to come of his presidency and for the good of the people of this nation. I will hope for such things to come to pass.
The election of Trump has given license to some to intimidate and spew their racial and misogynic and bigoted hatred, as those with these traits were attracted to Trump during the campaign and not much was done to discourage that from being so. We have seen the stories in the news and on the internet and on social media over the past week. Some people seemingly now feel free to act on these ugly beliefs. While they are in the minority of Trump supporters, the widespread accounts of these types of stories have been disturbing. This is an unfortunate, yet not surprising consequence of the election of Trump.
Then there are those who are protesting. While the protests themselves are not necessarily wrong, some of the protests have turned violent and/or destructive. And then there are others who will intimidate and accuse anybody who voted for Trump as being a Nazi or racist or a hater of women. Again, while in the minority, this is disturbing behavior coming from some on the side who supposedly preach tolerance and acceptance.
This nasty election has brought out the worst in America. It obviously has not stopped with the election. Hopefully it quells down soon.
Now all of this behavior is very wrong. None of it is justifiable in any sense. And people are rightly identifying it as such and are speaking out against it.
This is the difficulty I have, however. The large majority of the people I see decrying those who are bullying and intimidating in the name of Trump’s victory were Hillary supporters. Conversely, the large majority of the people I see decrying the protestors and the accusatory attitudes toward Trump voters were Trump supporters. This has been my perspective from personal conversation, reading of the news, and especially social media.
It is natural that those who were Hillary supporters are now pointing out the bad that is happening by Trump supporters. It is also natural that the Trump supporters are pointing out the badness and hypocrisy of the actions of those who were for Hillary. But my question is, how effective is all this finger pointing in actually making anything better?
The divisiveness in this country increased and was magnified and became painfully obvious throughout this election. The need to defeat and humiliate and destroy the “other side” only grew bigger and stronger as election day neared. The tactics to minimize wrongdoing and deflect accountability from one’s candidate of choice and to heap accusations and disdain onto the other became more numerous, pronounced, and sinister. While relatively few minds were probably changed by these tactics, it sure led to greater walls of division and dislike being built between people on opposing sides.
Now we continue on with the same. “Look at what those people are doing.” “Look at how bad those people are on the other side.” “Look at the terrible things they are doing, no wonder they think the way they think.”
Brick, upon brick, being laid on the walls of division and dislike.
What if for once we didn’t keep incessantly pointing out how bad the other side is and instead addressed some of the wrongdoing on our own side? Who is more likely to listen to us anyway? Is a violent protestor more likely to listen to the “enemy” who voted for Trump, or to a fellow Hillary supporter who shares many of their fears and concerns about a Trump presidency? Is a bully who is intimidating with religion and racism more likely to listen to a liberal Hillary supporter or to a fellow white conservative who shares their concerns about their race and religion increasingly being marginalized and ostracized?
But no, we must keep hammering away at the enemy and building the wall of division. We can’t possibly concede any fault or weakness, thus the enemy may gain an advantage. So when confronted with the misbehavior from our own side, we must deflect. “A lot of those reports are fraudulent.” “This is just a lot of misrepresentation from the sensational and biased media who are trying to make a mountain out a molehill.” “Those people don’t represent true conservatives/liberals, anyway.”
Now, I am not saying that we should never point out the wrong on the other side. Especially for those who have suffered real personal pain from issues related to this election, the speaking out against the side who caused their pain is certainly understandable. But let’s step back for a second and evaluate our strategy. Do we ever want to build bridges of peace and reconciliation? Do we ever desire to build and mend relationships? Do we ever have aspirations to find common ground? Maybe we don’t. And so our strategy is serving us just fine. We must conquer!
I know that I am far from perfect in my political interactions. I fail far more than I probably like to admit. It is tricky trying to stand for what you believe to be right while also trying to be a peacemaker. The hardest part may be trying to maintain appropriate interaction when absorbing “friendly fire” after pointing out wrongs on your own side. God calls us to be just and righteous. He also calls us to be peacemakers and reconcilers. It’s not an easy balance to attain.
At a time when our country is so heated and divided, it sure would help if Christians could lead the way in achieving this balance. To be able to find some measure of accord and unity even among our disagreements. Starting from within the church and working outward to our nation. It isn’t easy.
God help us to do so.