This has been a rough week. My candidate lost, not that it really matters. My life will go on, largely unchanged. I still have a job. I still have a house. The fluctuations in the stock market affect the net worth of my retirement portfolio, but I’m only 52 and retirement is a long way away and so right now, those fluctuations exist only on paper. In the end, November 8th came and went and absolutely nothing changed for me or my husband except the name of our president.
I got on Facebook the morning after the election and noticed that a lot of people have been posting about unity, and how both Republicans and Democrats need to set aside our differences and work towards unity. Many of my Christian friends have posted on Facebook encouraging their friends to pray for unity and to pray that God grants wisdom and guidance to our nation’s leaders.
Gosh that sounds nice, doesn’t it? Pray for unity! Pray that God guides our nation’s leaders!
I kind of expect Christians to be praying for unity and guidance on a regular basis. I’m kind of confused why anyone has to encourage Christians to do something that they should pretty much be doing every day. Moments like this make me wonder if I need to go on Facebook and encourage Christians to brush their teeth and shower daily.
Apparently, Christians are struggling with the basics these days and need some encouragement.
The thing is that I’m not convinced that unity is what we need to be praying for. Let me explain.
Do you remember when you were still a teenager and you used to wonder when you would meet the one? I used to dream about the boy I would marry and how handsome he would be; I would dream about the house I would live in and the children that I would have with my handsome husband. I never wondered if the police would stop my wedding, or if the government would refuse to grant me the right to marry the one I loved the most.
Such is the thing we call straight privilege. I never wondered if I’d be allowed to marry because I thought that everybody had the right to get married…and I forgot that everybody included a bunch of LGBTQ persons who did not actually gain that right until 2015.
Yeah…that’s right…LGBTQ persons did not gain the right to legal marriage in the United States until 2015. I think I was almost 35 years old before it occurred to me that there were whole groups of people in the US who weren’t legally allowed to marry at all.
So…you can imagine how the election of a right-wing President and even more conservative Vice President impacted the LGBTQ community.
Shortly after I arrived at work on Wednesday morning, I got to listen to the despair of a young lesbian women who is engaged but hasn’t yet reached her wedding day. I cannot imagine the pain she must have felt wondering if such a basic civil right—the right to marry—would be stripped from her come January 2017. I cannot imagine how frightening it must be for my gay colleague in Nevada who got married last month just after adopting his son. I can’t imagine the terror his newly adopted 11 year-old son must feel, considering that the poor boy was rejected by his biological family when he came out of the closet. Now he gets to wonder if his new family will be destroyed by politicos who don’t even know his name simply because his fathers are gay.
If you didn’t wake up on Wednesday and feel any fear, you are probably white, straight, and male. Congratulations! That’s quite the trifecta of birthrights! You might not feel very privileged and God knows how hard you have worked to achieve the success that you currently know. In fact, I’m pretty certain that you deserve all the money, success, and respect that is currently yours, and perhaps you might deserve more money, success, and respect than you are actually getting. On the other hand, you have never had to fight for your right to marry your beloved. You have never been arrested for driving while white because it is always assumed that white people don’t have to steal to be driving a car that nice. And you’ve never been afraid to have one drink too many for fear that the people around you will strip you naked and sexually violate you while calling you the whore.
Please, if you woke up on Wednesday and weren’t afraid, do more than pray for unity.
Go out and create some unity.
Do me a favor. Look in the Gospels! You will discover that Jesus did not sit in his prayer closet asking His Father for unity and governmental guidance for 33 years before crawling onto the cross and dying for your sins. While Jesus’ ministry only lasted three years prior to His death, that man was busy! He prayed plenty, but He spent much more time doing the right thing than He did praying about the right things.
Look, you and I both know that a Trump presidency is NOT the end of the world, no matter what you or I think of him. A Trump presidency will not be the end of America as we know it, either. On the other hand, the people who are terrified of what this election has done have good reasons to be fearful.
Maybe you should find out what those reasons are.
Speak to a Muslim, and find out what it is like to be blamed for the behaviors of other people whose choices you never supported. Talk to a member of the LGBTQ community and find out what it is like to be denied basic human rights, and to fear that your recently granted human rights will be taken away again. Speak to a woman who fears that women’s equal rights are about to disappear along with women’s safety from sexual harassment and assault. Speak to a Hispanic person who fears widespread racism against citizens of the US who just happen to be of Hispanic descent. Speak to someone who benefited from the Dream Act, and find out what it’s like to be raised in the US but considered an illegal alien. Find out what it is like to fear being sent “home” to a country that you’ve never even visited.
Go and find someone who is truly terrified; sit and listen to them without arguing with them about why they are wrong. Just listen. Try to understand that the campaign speeches that you may have found liberating felt like threats to the person you’re listening to. Imagine yourself in their shoes, having to fear your country’s government and what they might do to you only two months from now.
Listen closely to them no matter how you feel about what they say.
Having done all that, if you are still serious about the unity you are praying for, look them in the eyes and speak these words:
I promise to use whatever privilege is mine to protect your human rights and your human dignity. I may not agree with how your live your life, or how you came to live in my country, or who you worship. None of that matters, because I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He gave His life to save the lives of every human being, and that includes you and me. If you mean that much to Jesus, then you mean that much to me. I will not stand idly by while other people try to take away your rights and your safety. Everyone deserves their human and civil rights. Everyone.
Letting other people have their rights will not take away your rights.
Giving other people respect will not deny you respect.
Working to achieve justice for everyone will create a just world for…EVERYONE and that includes you.
And praying…praying is nice, but when it comes to where the rubber hits the road, action is what it takes to create unity.
And just in case you’re still not sure if God is on board with this idea, remember Micah 6:8.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
You heard the Man. Now do it.