Earlier today, my friend John Thro posted a question that, in light of this election, is worth taking the time for all of us to consider. He said…
“I have gay relatives, relatives with gender identity issues, relatives with mental health issues.
I have friends and coworkers who are immigrants, friends and coworkers who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist.
How should they feel this morning?”
First off, I want to point out that throughout this election cycle I have not supported either candidate. Professionally, I try very hard (with varying degrees of success) to keep my political opinions (though strongly held) to myself. What I have to say, and what we do, on Sunday morning, and inside the walls of the church are far more important than whatever political differences that we might have. Personally, I found both major candidates to be so deeply flawed that I could not, in good conscience, support either of them. What button I pushed inside the election booth is not something I care to post publicly.
With that in mind, here is my perception. Despite the efforts of the opposing campaign to smear him, Mr. Trump’s history is not as bad as some would lead you to believe. Many of the things brought up were things that he had said, 20 or 30 years ago. People change. In general, as we age, we mellow. For every accusation of hatred, there were employees, friends, associates, and others who countered with a story demonstrating the opposite. Even so, I do not discount that some of the things said by Trump were troubling, some should not have been said, and these are things that we must watch for, and guard against.
What I fall back on is that we still live in a nation of laws, a nation in which the violent crime rate has been dropping for the last twenty years, and a nation that is full of good people. No laws will be enacted that violate anyone’s Constitutional rights, violence against minorities or others will be not tolerated under our laws any differently than it has been, and the law will be upheld. In the end, as it has almost always been, to the man or woman on the street, there will be little or no perceived difference.
You are as safe today as you were yesterday.
The Gallup research organization says that 58 percent of all Americans claim to be third generation Americans, the grandchildren of immigrants. I am one. Our conversation about immigration is not only important, for more than half of us, it is deeply personal. For that reason alone, as well as others, there will be no gigantic shifts in immigration policy. We will not ban immigration. We will not hate immigrants. How can we when half of us claim that as our heritage? What we will (or at least should) have, is a discussion about what legal immigration ought to look like, what reasonable limits we should put in place, and how we can do it better.
Similarly, we are already such a culturally, religiously, and racially, diverse culture that I do not expect any huge, or dangerous, changes in public policy. And, despite those who would seek to attack our neighbors with gender identity issues, or those whose gender identity is different than the mainstream, I really don’t see any significant changes happening. As a nation, we are a good, kind, compassionate, generous, and yes, tolerant people… even if it doesn’t always seem that way.
I said many of these things to John in my reply to his post, but I also added something else. We must remember that President Obama, even though he was well liked and widely supported by the Democrat members of the United States House and Senate, occasionally proposed legislation that went too far. In those cases, even his friends and supporters could not agree with him, and that legislation did not pass. What President Trump will face, although there will be a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate, is a Congress in which many establishment representatives neither like him nor support him. I believe that they will be more than willing to oppose him on issues that they believe cross the line and go too far.
In the end, I also have faith.
I have faith that the ultimate power is not the man or woman who sits in the Oval Office. God is in control. And our God is a god who is passionately concerned about the poor, the outcast, the voiceless, immigrants, minorities, and every kind of oppressed people. What is left to us is not to be afraid, but to choose what we will do. We must not wait for the President, or the Congress, or the government at any level to do what we should do. I have always, regardless of political party, committed to pray for the President of the United States and all of our leaders at every level and I will continue to do that.
I encourage you to do the same.
But we must also busy ourselves doing what is right, good, and just, particularly if we are people of faith. We must commit ourselves to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the outcasts, being a voice for the voiceless, showing mercy and compassion for immigrants and the oppressed, and seeking justice for everyone.
I believe that our nation is full of good, decent, hardworking, compassionate, faithful, and generous people.
I believe that we will do these things.
We will be vigilant.
There is no reason to fear.
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