November 9, 2016:
I visited the Kennedy Center today for a family activity where check in was at the Hall of Nations and the seats of power were within eyesight. This is no small reality check given the dramatic upset that transpired yesterday in US presidential politics. The view in DC felt dark.
That the winning candidate has given license to the worst of our society when it comes to racism, bigotry, and hatred. He may not represent or be these things, but those that embrace these ideals (if they can be called ideals) feel vindicated and empowered by his victory. And those that are victims of prejudice are afraid and protesting as I write this post.
Where can I turn when my nation takes a step backwards (in my opinion). The GOP win may actually benefit me financially. But the policies proposed will hurt 22 million people insured by the ACA, young people who are using the health care of their parents thru age 26 until they get into this job market, people with chronic illnesses keep their insurance, and countless protections for vulnerable people. The party of Christian values won an election on non-christian propaganda helped by a damaged democrat candidate and FBI interference. And yet the party has so many good people and people of principle that allowed this to be their route to power.
Where to turn to at these troubled times? The drive home went from DC rush hour traffic to back roads Maryland. As the distance from metropolitan centers grew the radio turned to white noise, my daughter complained, I shut it off, my wife asked why! I said I wanted to listen but could not focus on the station dials right now — had to focus on road. She roused herself and found a new station and was about to drift back off when I apparently yelled aaagh……damn Deer in the road. If I changed that station we would have had one really dead Deer.
My wife yelled Jesus! I yelled what are you yelling at! She said you yelled I can yell! My daughter just wanted to know the Deer got away unharmed! (Yes – and the CRV brakes worked really well).
So we arrive in Delaware safely. I have adoration chapel and off I go. It is raining. I find quietness and presence in the chapel. Among other things I read about Jesus teaching the disciples about violent rejection of his message that is to come and that the good news will not be an immediate conquering of evil and disbelief. In fact, in his humility the power of the Divine life will emerge. Jesus spoke of service as the key. Service to the poor, in loving all of God’s children, and devotion to God.
That is the focus we need. If our focus is on a human being like Donald or Hillary to save the day (and save what?) we have given up our spiritual selves. And what was the driving message in this campaign other than money, fear, and hatred? Looking for solace and serenity can only truly come from the presence of divine presence in our lives? A divine gift.
A quote from my reading tonight regarding if you have the gift of living a divinely inspired life:
“You won’t need your assumptions, prejudices, worries, or even your hands and feet. However if you reject this gift where can you turn? You will have nothing but the empty pageantry of your pretensions; you’ll have nothing, you’ll have death.” Paul McCarren, SJ
Reading the above shallow thinking Reds and Blues can easily nod their heads in agreement as if the other side has committed the errors of turning their back on God’s message and placing their worth in false gods of power or elitism. I do not believe either side in the majority has conscientiously done that – but we are far from living divinely inspired lives.
The more we listen to others, the more we will see:
“the struggle of others to be cured of their ignorance is just like yours. You will begin to see yourself in them. You’ll find yourself at peace with them.” Paul McCarren, SJ
McCarren drew these conclusions from select readings from the Gospel of Mark and other bible references. This listening and empathy for our neighbors, friends, family, political opponents, and enemies is virtually absent in social media, newspapers, and conversations.
When is the last time you found yourself at peace with understanding rival ideas and the people who threaten your anchor, your identity, your deeply held beliefs?
This does not mean to abandon your beliefs or silence them – it does mean to deeply listen to others, reflect, pray, and strive to understand. It may also mean for Christians to repent (when you have failed), turn, ask, and accept God’s help. It also means to not be afraid when tragedy strikes or things do not go our way.
This reminds me of a neighbor I had from Cuba who said, they need a church on every corner, every corner, not for me, not for me, for those xxx, xxx, xxx, who graffiti-ed my fence. Sometimes we fall in to the trap of the other ones need help forgetting our own blindness and limited knowledge of living a truly divinely inspired life. It didnt bother me much re-painting my fence every so often – I kept a ready tin of paint back than and I new I owed as much from my own youthful errors.
So I leave the chapel and head home. A block away from the chapel, off to the side of the road, is a deer, just standing there, twenty feet in on the grass in the middle of Dover, De, watching me go home, feeling like, we have met before in Maryland just few hours and 50 or so miles ago? Providence?
Now I am up a second night late – but the driving force of my deprivation of sleep is much more comforting, purposeful, and hopeful than watching the human folly the night before. People will blame Christianity for division and others will claim Christianity as their defense for their vote. Christianity in its true form should do neither – it is loving, caring, compassionate, and modeling all the time the way of Jesus Christ. It is a way of living that I believe no human can live perfectly except one that has come before us being both God and Man.