This was always about us. Not them. It wasn’t originally about wealthy political machines. It wasn’t originally about email servers and tax returns. It wasn’t about conspiracy theories and plagiarized speeches and who scored better on a fact checking pop quiz. It was about us… the people of this fair land – a land where we work and attend school and build neighborhoods and worship God and serve our communities and pursue happiness. This was always about us.
And it would be such a shame to forget that. Maybe we can blame the one-too-many political posts we read. Or the one-too-many debate commentaries we watched. Or the one-too-many campaign phone calls we received. Or the one-too-many stump speeches we listened to.
Either way, we drank the Kool-Aid that poisoned us against one another.
We donned blinders that made us assume the worst about our neighbors.
We got high on fear, and we gorged ourselves on lowest common denominators.
Perhaps today we can all pause and remember to breathe. It might require taking a break from social media. We know there will be plenty who spike the football in tasteless fashion today. We also know there will be plenty who, in equally offensive fashion, blame the refs and say the game was rigged. If seeing either response incites the demons of your lesser nature, then yeah, it’s probably best to steer clear for a few days.
But come back. Please. Maybe not to the “comments” section where we turn into ugly shadow versions of ourselves. But come back to us. Engage again in discourse and discussion… or even better, lunch. Because this is about us.
And the vast majority of us want the same things.
We want to work.
We want to have some security.
We want an opportunity to better our lives.
We want our basic civil liberties.
Black or white. Rich or poor. Gay or straight. It’s what we want if our family has lived on this soil for 5 generations. It’s what we want if our parents sought refuge here with little more than far-flung hope spoken in broken English.
I think about all the people who crossed my path today. The 99 year old Puerto Rican woman praying through tears to Jesus. A small business owner preparing for the holiday rush. The city police officer working a beat in the Garden District. A pastor friend who leads an African American congregation in town. The girl in a hijab sitting on the front row of class. A teenager wearing headphones on his walk back home from school.
Each one belongs to “us.” And that means we aren’t so far apart, regardless of how we voted.
And besides, we have another election. One that I believe is more important than last night’s extravaganza. We can elect to live according to a different narrative. In my faith tradition, we confess that we are called to be salt and light in the world. Simply put, it means that we are compelled by divine love to bring what is good to the surface. And the very one who spoke those words to us modeled them as so much more than rhetoric. The expectation is that we would follow suit.
So let us elect to speak grace.
To practice kindness.
To tell the truth.
To walk according to mercy.
To show compassion to everyone, especially those on the margins.
And let us elect, above all, to love our neighbors as ourselves, because there is no practice closer to the very heart of God.
I hope that we can join together in praying for President-Elect Trump. I hope that we can pray for our leaders on every level, regardless of their political party.
Despite our fears… despite our disagreement… despite whatever low hanging fruit we may be fed by the system, you and I can rewrite the script of our days. We can smash the iron clad assumptions we’ve used to bind one another to different corners of the room.
We can do this. Because this is about us. It’s always been about us.