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Reflecting on America's Bad Day

Reflecting on America's Bad Day

by Mark Miller on January 07, 2021

Reflecting on America's Bad Day

Our nation had a bad day yesterday. Not our first bad day, and it won’t be our last, but it was still quite a bad day. A group of protestors breached the Capitol Building while a joint session of Congress was in the process of certifying November’s election results and taking the final step to officially declare Joe Biden President-elect of the United States.  Protestors who managed to get into the Capitol building destroyed and damaged property and threatened the physical safety of our Congressional leaders.   It was violent, it was lawless, it was destructive, it was ugly and it was hateful. 

Many of us are disappointed with our current President.  I have prayed for Donald Trump regularly (as I have for every other previous president during my adult life), and will continue to do so.  But you learn about the character of a leader based on how he or she responds in times of crisis, and you learn a lot about a person’s maturity based on how he or she responds when things don’t go their way.  As a Christian and a Pastor, I want to publicly acknowledge that President Trump did not lead well yesterday.  His ongoing insistence that the election was stolen from him has not been helpful and his videotaped response to the violent protests at the Capitol was inadequate.  Today, many of his staff are resigning in protest of his poor leadership during these past few weeks and many of his supporters have begun to distance themselves from him.  

Several events have unfolded over the past few months that make it clear, America is deeply divided.  Some believe our division is primarily political, and that once Donald Trump is dragged off the political stage the angry conflicts and violent protests will come to an end.  I am doubtful.  Our divisions are not just political.  There are cultural, religious, economic, and racial divisions that seem to be growing more pronounced over time.  And there are plenty of so-called “leaders” on both sides of these issues who use divisive rhetoric to fan the flames of mistrust and anger which only encourages lawless and destructive behavior.  Political leaders know that stirring up anger is a powerful and effective way to attract financial donors and motivate potential voters.

As Christians, there are some important steps we can take to make sure we don’t get caught up in the ugliness.  First, let’s recognize that there is nothing Christlike or acceptable with the kind of behavior we just witnessed in our Nation’s Capital. Regardless of who does it or why, rioting has no place in our political processes.  It was wrong this past summer when it was done in the name of social justice, and it was wrong yesterday when it was done in the name of political frustration.  Second, let’s move beyond our own echo chamber and consider the viewpoints of people who hold views that are much different from ours. Listen to what they have to say, try to understand their perspective. It is so important to honestly consider ideas and perspectives that differ from our own. If you only get your news from CNN or MSNBC, force yourself to watch or read a little bit of Fox News.  If you only get your news from Fox, force yourself to spend some time on CNN or MSNBC. If you think that any newspaper or cable news program is giving you completely unbiased and unfiltered news, you’re probably fooling yourself. That’s why it’s important to consider multiple perspectives. You won’t like doing it, but that’s the point.   We don’t like listening to people with whom we disagree.  But when we fail to listen, we grow intolerant and self-righteous.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, let’s make sure that we do not put our hope in politicians and government.  Part of the reason people get so spun up over politics and the outcome of elections is that we put too much hope in the promises of politicians who tell us that if we elect them into office, they will solve our problems for us and give us more goodies. We start to buy the lie that Utopia is on the horizon if we just make sure our preferred political party wins the House, Senate, and Presidency. When we put our hope for happiness into the hands of political candidates or a piece of legislation, we then grow angry when our candidates lose or the legislation doesn’t get enacted.  Our anger turns to rage and before long we find ourselves posting ugly words on Facebook, rejecting friends and family members who hold a different view, and losing our Christian virtue along the way.

America is deeply divided, and almost evenly divided.  Most presidential elections are decided by just a couple of percentage points. That isn’t going to change any time soon and demonizing the tens of millions of people who voted for the other candidate isn’t healthy or helpful. Government is necessary, sometimes politicians and legislation can do some good, but government is not our savior and never will be. Let’s commit to being informed voters who listen to both sides, recognize our own biases, vote prayerfully according to the dictates of our conscience, accept defeat graciously, and celebrate victory humbly.  And let’s condemn violence, rioting, and corruption wherever we find it, putting our trust in God rather than Caesar. 

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