Community After the 2016 Election

     In the wake of the recent presidential election, I walked around the hills of Eastern and saw many students who looked sad and shocked. I also saw people who were gleaming in happiness and optimism that their country would undoubtedly become great again. These two reactions were on opposite sides of the spectrum. Like all presidential elections, there is a winner and a loser, and many Americans acutely felt the loss or win of their preferred candidate especially given this particularly controversial election year. After the election, many turned to violent uprisings to show their opposition toward the elected. Others spoke words of hatred; they used the election as an excuse to hate others for their differences. Both reactions are sickening. We as a nation often struggle to treat people as people. We often love only those who agree with us and whom we like. We often fail to listen to one another with respect and decency in times of division.

     Many believe that the two main political parties are vastly and irreconcilably  different. We all have some misconceptions about the other parties. Some Republicans believe that all Democrats are on welfare and  do not work a single day in their lives. Some Democrats believe that Republicans are in the top tier of our economic class system and are typically white men. These misconceptions, although debatable as to how close or far away they are from the actual truth, reveal a lack of understanding of the reality of America’s political system. In reality, we are not that different from each other as human beings. Republicans and Democrats believe in many different ideas, but we all want what is best for our country. We all want to create more jobs for the public. We all want to see America thrive as a country again.

     At this crucial time in our nation, we must not fight. Throughout recent history, in the greatest challenges this country has seen, we stuck with each other. For example, in the terrorist attacks of 2001, we Americans stood together and stood behind our president. We did not hate. We grieved together. We  strove for safety together. In the aftermath of this election, we cannot do anything differently. We must fight  beside each other, not against each other. We must rally together to fight bigotry and oppression. We must together put a stop to acts of violence or oppression.

     As a Christian community, we at Eastern must work together as God’s children, recognizing that we all have different opinions and that is more than okay. We can have different thought processes and patterns. However, we must also see that some are using the outcome of the election as a reason to hate others, whether this is because their candidate won or lost. This is not right, nor is it godly.

     Jesus commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, NIV). If we are going to obey this commandment, we need to go forth and speak and listen with peace and understanding, and love with kindness and empathy. Love is a verb: one cannot love without acting. In a time of disconnection, anger, misunderstanding and prejudice, as well as various forms of oppression, we must act in order to love, serve and defend our neighbors. We need to tell them that they are loved, and we need to love them despite all our differences. In the wake of this hurt-filled and divisive election, let us strive to be Christlike in our love for our neighbors.

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