In the aftermath of a passionate political campaign season, concluded abruptly with a very close presidential election and record-breaking voter turnout, at least half of us are likely to be suffering from grief -- a grief comparable to that which follows the sudden early death of a loved one.
Shock, disbelief, anger, despair, all the stages and symptoms of grief may affect the way we work, the way we learn and the way we relate to one another.
At the same time, another half of us might possibly be experiencing undeniable joy, as at a miraculous birth -- euphoria, a sense of well-being, victorious mirth.
When the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviet hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, the nation shared the joy of an unexpected victory. After Sept. 11, 2001, we Americans learned how to deal gently with one another as we shared a common loss.
But we have not learned how to sympathize or deal graciously with those whose reaction to an event is different from our own.
Those among us who worked so hard for change, who invested a great deal of time, money and effort in the campaign are grieving, and may be offended by the celebrating of others. Those who supported the current administration may resent the wet-blanket brooding of others. One thing both have in common is intensity of feeling. Voter apathy was not an issue in this election for the first time in my memory.
The clash of the manic and the depressive, the victorious majority and the grieving minority, is already playing out in bullying behaviors. My daughters have experienced this at school, and we also witness it when leaders pledge to forge ahead with policies with which half of us, the people, disagree.
So, where do we go from here? How do we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, grieve with those who grieve, and rejoice with those who rejoice? How do we model discretion and sympathy in our celebrating and in our grieving, and how do we encourage our leaders, and our children, to do the same?
I believe we might begin to delve into the answer by remembering the resounding command of the gospel, "Do not be afraid." Do not be afraid, Mary, for your child shall be great (Luke 1:30). Do not be afraid, shepherds, for I bring you good news of great joy (Luke 2:10). Do not be afraid of the empty tomb for Christ has risen (Matthew 28:5). You shall not fear the terror of the night or the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:5). Face the future not with fear, but with hope, and good will. Refuse to be afraid of each other.
We should all heed the wisdom of Scripture regarding walking humbly with our God, acknowledging that now we see as in a mirror, dimly (Micah 6:8, 1 Corinthians 13:12).
Those who govern would be especially wise to remember that the greatest of all must be the servant OF ALL (Mark 9:35). Did you notice that "of all?" Not just a few, not just a slight majority. Remember the words of Paul, "If you think you are standing, watch out you don't fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12) Just when you think you are walking tall, that's when you might find yourself flat on your ... floor.
Hubris, the insolent disregard for the opinions of others, prevents us from hearing one another. Humility requires us to consider the possibility that God is still speaking with the voices of our opponents. God does not always speak through the majority.
Let us listen, and learn from one another. For we are, for better or worse, brothers and sisters, one human family.
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