As I stood at the corner of President and Clinton with my wife and children on Tuesday
night watching the election returns on a big screen in the middle of the intersection, I
was struck by how closely my daughter was following the developing story. She was
worried. The numbers weren’t trending the way her parents and the media had told her
they would. Soon she and countless others, already scarred by the hateful rhetoric of
the campaign, would have their hearts broken and their faith in the political process shaken.
In their shock and grief, people have told me that they feel like this country is no longer their home, like they don’t belong here. When they see the slogan “Make America Great Again”, they hear “Make America White Again”.
Our form of government relies on trust in our electoral system. If the validity of that system is seriously challenged and citizens lose faith in the election process, then our republic will break down. What is said in the public square in the aftermath of an election, particularly one as divisive as this one, is critical to ensure the future of the democratic process. Accordingly it is incumbent upon all of us to respect the results of the election whether we like them or not.
But respecting the results does not mean we have to pretend like these results don’t have real consequences for our lives. As Christians we are obliged to work for peace and reconciliation, to love and pray for our enemies and those who persecute us, but we also have an obligation to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p 305)
Calls for people to tamp down their emotions now seem premature to me. For people who live in fear of deportation, for people of color who routinely experience bias at the hands of law enforcement, for people of faith whose first amendment right to freedom of religion is under assault, for people with disabilities, and for women and girls who still are fighting for control over their own bodies, the hurt is deeply personal. Not because our team lost, but because the country just elected a president whose campaign rhetoric and that of his followers was an attack on our basic dignity as human beings.
We need to take care of our wounded first. And there are plenty of wounded people out there. We need to hear how much this hurts. We need to provide sanctuary and balm to those who seek it. Particularly those of us with skin and class privilege will need to step up and ensure that the rights of the vulnerable are protected. We will need to keep our eyes and ears open to hear the voices of those whose day-to-day experience in these United States of America may be quite different from our own.
We need each other more than ever now. It’s a good time to go to church, whatever that is for you. Take care of each other. Express your anger, fear, grief in places and with people who are trustworthy. When we gather together and hold one another up, we will discover the capacity to rise stronger than before, in the knowledge that we are all beloved children of G-d, created in the image of the Holy One who creates, redeems
and sustains us now and always.