My disappointment is not really in who was elected. We live in a democracy and the people have spoken. Now we can live with it for the next four years or so, just as we have done for all previous elections. We still live in an amazing country and most of us, when we boil it down, have little to complain about. I’m confident that it will stay that way. Sure, we may not like some of the changes that come our way, but do we need to fear? No. And yet that’s exactly what I see and hear.
I’ve been shocked with some of the stuff I’ve seen and heard in the course of this election campaign, both before and after the election. If there’s anything that brings fear to my heart (even though we shouldn’t fear!), it’s what I saw on social media during this election (yes, this is mostly about Facebook).
Two things in particular concern me. They have to do with the possibility civil dialogue and theological grounding.
1. Civil dialogue. I’m worried that we are losing (or have lost) our ability to have civil dialogue. Dialogue requires not just listening but also the effort to understand the other point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. It seems to me we did very little of either listening or empathizing during this election, at least if Facebook is any indication (it might be that it isn’t, but I doubt it).
When we engage in civil dialogue, we will discover that the “other” is rather a lot like we are, with similar foundational goals and fears and perceptions and weaknesses as we have, even if on the “issues” we disagree. And when we discover this, we discover that we are dealing with fellow human beings. With neighbours.
Instead, what I saw was a lot of plugged ears while screaming out personal points of view mixed with prejudice, mockery, and hatred.
2. Theological grounding. What didn’t come across my Facebook feed was anything that remotely suggested that what we believe as followers of Jesus Christ has any bearing on what we think are important election policies. (And I don’t think that the only faith-based issues are abortion—which none of the major parties are interested in addressing—or marriage.
Based on my feed the election was all about the economy, taxes, and what is best for me personally, irrespective of my neighbours’ needs. (And also half-truths and lies about the politicians we didn’t like).
But where did Jesus’ teachings come into play? Where did God’s heart and character (love, grace, mercy, justice, forgiveness) come into play, not only in policy but in the conversation?
Christians are called to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, MIND, and strength. I feel like politics has a knack for turning all of those things off, not least the God-loving mind.