I get asked this question a lot:
"Are you a Republican or a Democrat?"
"I'm an American."
The truth is I've voted both ways in my lifetime, and I think that most Americans likewise have stood somewhere in the middle until one side pushed them to the other. But no matter what side of the aisle you find yourself, two things are super important:
1) Vote. Like, ACTUALLY, vote.
Apathy = privilege. So give a damn. Give many damns! Don't know about the issues? Hop on Google and start researching what's on your pamphlet, & here's a little college 101 for ya: don't believe the first article you read! Read MANY. Come to your OWN conclusions. Don't excuse laziness in this area of your life learning.
2) Most importantly (at least to me!),
remember that we are in this together.
Even if you disagree STRONGLY about something, the person you're speaking with is still your fellow American. We've all had our own experiences that lead us to be more aggressive within certain topics, but try to grow in this area as peacemaker. Don't return evil for evil. "Overcome evil by doing good" Romans 12:21.
When I think about the last presidential election, I think FIRE.
Both sides. Both tongues. Irresponsible. Unkind. Immature. Half-truths. Buzz words.
What I learned is that I don't want to encourage this kind of politics. I want to seek out actual truth, and that rarely seems to be the point for either major party.
Truth is my fellow American's experiences.
My friends who've grown up in different cultures than me. People who've experienced the effects of systemic racism. My interracial couple friends who deal with looks and comments of judgment. My fathers' generation who is honestly still just trying to get over Vietnam. My grandparents who immigrated here from Poland and "LOVEEEE AMERICA!!!". My friends who've adopted / been adopted. The older generation on Medicare. My white friends who grew up in seemingly "ideal" households, yet experience pain / loss / mental suffering...the list goes on.
We all seem to get passionate when it comes to certain topics, and my goal is to understand why. I want to listen. Be the cool damp ground that doesn't allow the flame of division to grow, but instead meets anger with grace. Because realistically, we're all just walking each other home in this life.
If you feel angry (aka hurt) at someones ignorance or lack of responsible speech, I implore you, don't snap back. Lean into discomfort, as Christ did for us, and showcase grace and kindness.
Having grace is by no means passive, or allowing things to remain the same. We absolutely have to have hard conversations about necessary change. But grace gives people a safe place to learn, and it keeps us from being too embarrassed to be wrong. It's a more effective instructor to someone, who genuinely doesn't know better, saying something offensive. It gives the space for healing to start.
I wanted to post this before Election Day tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, the nation will inevitably experience high levels of tension. Some will feel victorious, and others uneasy.
Have grace for both. Keep your cool, and love on people. Even the difficult ones.