I sat and looked at pictures this morning of a political rally for the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Inside this rally were thousands of supporters wearing hats, t-shirts and buttons that identified themselves as ‘The Silent Majority.’ There were printed slogans on placards with the prerogative ‘Make America Great Again.’
Outside there were placards that proclaimed ‘Love trumps Hate’ and ‘Trump is the AntiChrist.’ These were alongside wordplays on his policies ‘Deport Trump’ and ‘Gays against Islamaphobia.’ There were definite visions of our nation in contrast on separate sides of Peachtree Street at the corner of Ponce de Leon on a Hot-lanta afternoon.
And, it only forecasts to get hotter, even as the calendar turns from Summer to Autumn. The polarization and divide over issues at hand is not going to magically fade away in an avalanche of cooling rhetoric and/or dialogue. It is too far gone. The hemispheres will never merge into one another and the poles will not move off their axis.
And, how do I stand? I stand in sadness. There is no human solution. There is no freeing political ideology. There is no Wizard behind the curtain with words to make us feel it will all be okay. It will not be okay. I am not sure when America ever was ‘great’ in the sense it is being touted to return to. (Before you go off on me, we have been the greatest among our peers but we have too many horror stories to just be called great without a disclaimer.)
We are a nation marked by our inglorious past and helped by our glorious calling. I do believe we are a called nation. I cannot shake that conviction. I do believe we have the most influential role to play on the world stage. I do believe we are used by God, and have been, in many ways over two centuries. However, since 4 July, 1776, we have been a nation under attack. Any idea, calling, purpose, movement, mission or glory that God may have envisioned for us has been met with anti-force. We are a community of humanity whose freedom allowed us to be arrogant, hateful, demeaning and cruel even in the quest for right. That is just the way of the world and we have not escaped that. We cannot ‘return’ to greatness. We can aspire to it though.
I am without a party, a candidate, a rallying cry in this election. I have been for the last couple of election cycles. Still, as an American, I aspire to greatness. I will use my freedom for good. I will use my calling for good. I will use my citizenship for good. I will use my hope for good.
Despite who the President, or the party of power, may be, I will not succumb to pitying myself or my nation. I will find like-hearted friends and colleagues to make a difference where I live. I will pray for the peace and the prosperity of the place I have been sent, for if it prospers I will prosper.
I wonder, just momentarily because of the absurdity associated with my idea, if Jesus followers would just obey the Scripture with as much fervor and energy as they exude in the political process, pray with conviction for our leaders – even IF they might be a closet Muslim or atheist or agnostic or even a clueless Joe and hate our faith and practice – and intercede beyond the realm of flesh and blood, what might happen. The church will never do such a thing though. Why? Because we are more American than we are heavenly. We are discipled in the system of politic and treat Scripture as the kind aunt or uncle who, while giving us good advice, have no authority like a parent.
Our nation is in upheaval. What I am going to do is choose not to join it. I will live by the law of love and pray to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. I am not very good at it, but I realize this, and only this, is my pathway to greatness.