I guess the time to shake everything down has come.
This weekend brings the wait now. And the wait is a great inhalation, like when you’re in the car and you aren’t quite sure if the driver is going to crash.
Or at least that’s what my parents’ breathing became when I was learning how to drive.
In any case, this weekend, starting Saturday or Sunday, America will begin to inhale its collective breath and wait. No matter what happens, there will be people who are epically upset by what happens. I’d be deluding myself if I said there wouldn’t be violence.
Then once the votes are counted, contested, and settled and a result settles in, many of us will breathe out a weary breath about the latest chapter in this intense full-contact contest called 2020.
And from that massive exhalation, the dust will kick up and we will again have our vision obscured by so much debate, conjecture, conspiracy, complaint, and demonization.
All of that dust kicked up will settle.
And what then?
I can’t say for you, but for me, I know that I will have less friends.
Ever since our country began to divide over issues this year such as mask wearing and quarantines and lockdowns I have been a vocal proponent of my opinion. Strangely enough I have confidence in what I think. And in the contravening time, there have been social justice moments upon which I have opined. I have taken the time to look at my own life with new vision. I have seen the BLM movement suffer a lack of support from the moral conscience of the nation and get co-opted by the same political party that co-opted it last time to their own personal empowerment and to the continued disempowerment of communities of color. The head of the SBC issued a statement that Black lives matter. Our church held a protest in support of our brothers and sisters of color.
And the entire time, I have watched people unable to meet my eyes with their own.
I know that look as a loss of respect.
I have seen it in my reflection whenever I have made a decision I hated.
But what I can tell you is that since February, I have not had that look in my own eyes for myself. I have made hard choices and taken honest stances. I have spoken my mind and I sleep very well at night. I am walking closely with my God, and I hear His truth in my ears.
And I am hearing a growing quiet from people with whom I used to share a great deal of fellowship.
I no longer have a tribe.
I have become critical of the machinery of the GOP and so my republican friends assume that I have gone Democrat. I champion personal freedoms over enslaving entitlements and my liberal and progressive friends assume that I sleep with a picture of Donald Trump under my pillow at night.
I point out that social justice is a HUGE part of what Jesus preached and my church people who will vote all red assume that I want to take their tax money and give it to a drug addict. I point out that Jesus once legitimized inequity with a parable and my Bernie bros assume that I want sick children to remain sick, uneducated, and eventually incarcerated.
I have some friends who get me and it is massively comforting.
And my hurt at losing friends is much lesser than my fear that these people have lost more than a friend. They have lost their way.
When I took a history class in the winter of 2017, I discovered something interesting about American history. We began at Reconstruction and continued to the last decade. Politics has always been a part of history, but in the 19th century it was merely a way of telling who was president to mark bigger events and accomplishments. Following World War 2, however, something shifts.
You study history and the primary study of history at that point in time is politics. While politics was tangent to the great accomplishments of America in the 18th and 19th centuries, the accomplishments of people are either tangent or co-opted by politics for the last fifty years of the 20th century.
Somewhere along the line, America became defined by who administrates her federal offices.
I am no longer allowed to have an official opinion that belongs to myself in public forums because of how people are afraid it will reflect on themselves or their church.
unless, of course, that opinion matches my reader
If I post something subversive but observant, I have committed a grave sin against my fellow man in causing an argumentative thought to occur in his head.
I absolutely champion the peace officers of my community and, in the deepest part of my heart, hold a vast respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep my family safe.
It is possible to hold that value at the same time that I know in the deepest part of my heart that people are intrinsically evil and left to their own devices absent of monitoring and authority will abuse the power they wield on my behalf.
So I can say that Black lives matter and following the conclusion of that statement say that I support the police organizationally and financially. I stand for people and that value creates the above values. If valuing Black lives ever became an obstruction to supporting people, I would cease its statement. If supporting the police ever became a roadblock to the equitable opportunity for all people, I would change course.
So far, I have not found that to be so.
But this year I have been asked to take sides against people on behalf of ideas.
Since when have ideas become our gods? Since when have we committed ourselves to destroying human life and dignity for the sake of something that only exists in the lightning exploded between the synapses of our minds?
There was a time when a Christian was directed by his love of and resultant devotion and service to Yaweh God. There was a time when Christians tolerated the bumbling machinations of the body politic, while people of faith rebuilt human lives. Whenever they have lived beyond governance and amongst people, the life it has breathed and the understanding of faith has exploded beautifully. Whenever it has compromised its ideals to become part of the machine, such as the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and so forth, it has corrupted the offices of the religious leaders and eventually corrupted the government to the dissolution of the empire.
And chaos ensued.
And the air was filled with dust and confusion.
And eventually the dust settled again.
And the world moved on.
So where will you and I be once the dust settles on this election?
I still stand for you.
If you don’t wear a mask, I stand for you (just not close).
If you want everything open, I love you.
If you wrap yourself up in cloth like the invisible man (let’s be honest, it keeps me warm), I’m with you.
If you want things closed until we can’t remember the word “Covid,” you are a treasure.
If you vote Biden, I am with you.
If you vote Trump, you are mine.
And these aren’t my own personal virtues. These ideas aren’t unique to me. I am not claiming them to point out how good I am.
These are the values of my Jesus, and I have to be faithful to the way He sees life and He sees you and me.
When offered a chance to be a politician in the courts of the Pharisees, He refused. They asked Him if they should pay a tax to Rome. He answered that if Caesar had given them his shiny rocks with his weird face on it that he had the right to ask for his shiny rocks back.
He also said that God had a right to claim what bore His image.
You bear His image.
So do I.
Our ideas might echo His words, but our words do not compose us.
His voice has enlivened us.
Ours sometimes degrades us.
As luck would have it, I will not be voting. Circumstances beyond my control have disenfranchised me this time around. I attempted to register three times over the last year. I’m sure that if I had actually shown up in person, it would have happened. Lesson learned. I’m sure that at this point in time for many people who know me, the way I will actually vote is a mystery.
It’s because I have left behind the political tribalism.
The way I would have voted would have disappointed some and cheered others.
I don’t care anymore.
When the dust settles, I am a citizen of Heaven, subject of the King.
And the King wouldn’t vote for any of this mess.
But He loves you and me and wants us to do the same.