I voted for one reason, because I'm glad I have the choice to vote. In actuality, I hate politics. So much of it throughout history has been about power, control, and ego and in the U.S. political campaigns have of late been sources of fear-mongering and muddy rhetoric. I don't hold much stock in any of that.
But I recognize that governments have their place, and I'm glad I have freedom to vote unhindered. A bunch of women fought for this for decades so I could walk to where I was going to vote yesterday without fear or disrespect and I was happy to see that a woman could run for president. Ironically, our first female candidate wasn't honorable and truthful.
When I was little I heard conspiracy theories, and doom and gloom stories all the time. I had no idea how to sort through them in my mind and soul so they created a twisted fear in me that made me dread having to be in the same room as my uncles and dad when they got going, and made me dread to be alive sometimes. Each new president or political change was probably going to usher in the Mark of the Beast, and we were all going to be forced to have chip implants and God would reject us. It terrified me, and as much as I love my uncles and dad they had no clue what they were doing to the sensitive little girl who pretended it didn't bother her. Whether or not these things can or will happen in my lifetime doesn't matter, at that time an atmosphere was created where fear could grow and thrive.
That's why last night a memory reappeared when I heard my kids at Tuesday church talk about the fear some of their Hispanic schoolmates have over being shipped back to wherever they came from if Trump was elected. They were anxious about the election under all their bravado and hype, because of what they'd heard the adults and the TV saying, and it took me right back to being that little kid. I get it, I really, really get it. People can do awful things, as kids are learning in history, and black and white is outlined starkly to a child - especially when they listen to the talk of the adults around them without the developed perspective to go with it. I don't know if Trump will implement these rash immigration policies, but I do see that he is not going to be a lone island and therefore his policies are likely to get tempered. Kids may not be able to reason that way.
My perspective is with the maturity of an adult, but however the fears of the children are ones I see mirrored in many adults today, even Christians, and I wonder why?
The political campaign this year and others years has preyed off fears. Millions of people woke up today with despair in their heart, while the other half of the millions woke up hopeful, because of what they believed. It seems each party polled is afraid of the other party; isn't it crazy what a little belief and non communication will do? It creates hope, it slays fears, it stays anxieties, or... grows them in leaps and bounds. I was neither desolate or jubilant this morning (though I am happy the media got what has been coming to them for awhile) because like many others I thought both candidates dishonorable, and one of them an abject liar, the other racist. But like many others, my conscience bid me to vote, so I choose one according to the issues I care most about.
It's right to care about truth, and it's right to care about people but you can't care for people effectively if truth is not the foundation. Both parties have got it wrong when they polarize these two categories and act as if they're mutually exclusive. Both functions serve an imperative part of human life: truth says we must find a way to protect all human life, and caring for people is what makes life worth living. A little rational thinking shows us that we can care about truth and people simultaneously. It's a harder, but better, road.
I have been thinking about what the truth is, and why it's so hard as Christians trying to figure out what our place is in politics. I finally came across the idea that most of us misunderstand God's kingdom and have trouble seeing that the kingdom of heaven is inside us and around us constantly while we operate in a more physical dimension.
We either see what the Jews in Jesus' time did when they thought Jesus was going to restore their political factions and fix everything (some of us thought that way in terms of Elections 2016) or we with Anabaptist backgrounds got as far as to conclude that God or His kingdom has nothing to do with politics, and therefore we shouldn't either, but I don't think that's true either because God is concerned with everything that concerns us. He created us and He's deeply interested in what we do. As nice as it would be to shut the world out (religious conservatives are proficient at that) we were instead given the task to steward our responsibilities.
Our first responsibility is to love the Lord God with everything we have, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Loving my neighbor could be as simple as a plate of cookies, and it could be as complicated as a presidency. It means creating an atmosphere that does not nurture fears for ourselves or our neighbors, and taking responsibility to treat those fears some love. We don't have to agree, but we do have to love each other, which is the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth. I don't mean some kind of pansy love where we wave flags and screech tolerance, I mean the down in the trenches stuff where we're doing what no one else wants to do, and the things that make our week or day a bit inconvenient.
The shoe leather for me is taking part in the community around me for the love of God. Yesterday it meant voting. Next Tuesday it means showing up for those kids who are afraid, so they can focus on something that can drive away their fears, love. To find a hope that doesn't depend on human fallibility. God's kingdom is not limited to the things that look good in the public or church eye and sometimes you might get called to do things no one recognizes as loving, or even recognizes, period.
In the end this is what will matter, and the only way we're going to get the message out there is by being a temporary part of an earthly kingdom. Do your part. If you love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul and mind, then love your neighbor as yourself.
That's the message from the Commander-in-Chief, of the real kingdom.