Monday, October 31, 2016

Stop It

I'm going to preface this entire post by saying that I do not support either of the two major party candidates. I just don't. I think that they are both wonderfully suited for jobs other than the one that they are appealing to all of us to pick them for.

That's important, because I really and truly do not want any comments about why I should or shouldn't vote for one or the other - everyone reading this post has already made up their minds. There is very little that's going to sway people to go to the other side at this point - and 20% of registered voters either plan on or already have voted ahead of the scheduled election on November 8th. So... save that, put it in your pocket, and wait to persuade each other for the next election.

Now. I have something important to say.

Everyone needs to stop. Myself included - but we all need to stop.

Did you know that Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are human beings? Real ones. With spouses. And jobs. And children.

And mistakes.

Because none of us have ever made mistakes, have we?

And here's where I need to tell all of you to stop again. I don't want to hear "But we're not running for the President of the United States" or "But we're not in the public eye" or any of that business. I've said those things too and recently I realized how incredible wrong and horrible and judgmental all of that is.

They are human. They are sinners. They are imperfect.

There's a story in the Bible about a woman who is surrounded by people with stones in their hands. She's on the ground and everyone is about to stone her because she's committed adultery - in those days a crime punishable by death, not just a messy divorce or breakup. Then Jesus shows up and the way the story plays out the woman gets to walk away without a single stone being cast.

" he stood up and said 'All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone... When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up and said 'Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?'" (John 8:7-10)

Everyone - put your stones down. Just stop it. You are not perfect either, and there are so many more ways to point out that a person is not qualified or preferred for a job rather than attacking their character. And yes, I understand that character is a huge part of what makes a president - but find a way to say it that allows a person to grow, change, and improve. You can condemn a behavior without condemning the person, and as incredibly hard as that can be sometimes - and believe me, people feel SO strongly about these two candidates that it's hard for either set of supporters to not tear the one they don't support to shreds - it's important. At the end of the day Donald Trump is a person. At the end of the day Hillary Clinton is a person.

And stop it. Stop it reader. I know right now you're saying "No, they're a monster". Stop it. Seriously stop it. Both candidates have had their behavior incredibly sensationalized in an effort to draw your attention to the strengths or weaknesses of one or the other. That's the way the media works, it's what they get paid to do. So stop it.

The world of social media has made it so much easier to depersonalize people, even people like presidential candidates who were already fairly distant from us. Prior to social media, most of us would have to wait for the news three times daily or a mailing or attend one of their rallies or town-hall events or hope they'd show up at our local diner and shake our hand. More than I can ever remember, it's gone beyond the candidates just attacking each other - we are attacking the candidates viciously and if anyone dares to disagree with us: we are attacking each other.

We are forgetting that we are all people, and we are forgetting that all of us - even those who seem the most vile - need to be loved.

"You have heard the law that says 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I say love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in Heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike." (Matthew 5:43-45)

OK, OK. I'm almost done. So we're all human, we're called to love our enemies... that just leaves one more thing.

One of these two people is going to be the next President of the United States. That's the reality, whether we like it or not. One of them is going to win. One of them is going to swear on the Holy Bible to protect, honor, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

And we're all going to have to live with that. We're all going to have to spend the next 4-8 years with this person as the one who will be running our country. Then we'll have to start this process all over again. Because that's how it works.

In the meantime we need to not implode on ourselves as a country. It is in our best interest to unite together, to remember that we are ALL children of God, to pray together for each other, for our leaders, and for our country. We have to pray for peace, for understanding, and most importantly - we have to pray that we can all learn to first act in love rather than fear, in hate, in anger.

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:34-35)

Listen - when November 9th hits and we know definitively who will be entering the Oval Office next January, we have a choice. We can either unite together and pray for our next President of the United States, or we can continue to focus on that which divides us and make those divisions even deeper. I for one will be choosing to pray for our next leader. To pray that person will be surrounded with men and women who will have the country's best interest in mind, that their hearts will be open to hearing the advice of those around them, that they will be measured and reasonable and compassionate in their responses and actions. That they will do their best to be good stewards of the finances God has blessed this country with. That they will do their best to come to the aid of those in need - the orphans and widows of the world. That they will see past the differences of the people who live in this country and focus instead on what unites us.

And yes, I know your candidate will and theirs won't. All of you stop it.

Neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are a Savior, and it's time we stop treating them as such. They are people. They are flawed. They need our prayers, they need our encouragement, oh - and they need our prayer.

No matter what the outcome of the election is.

"I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

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