“Demonstrators” shut down the busiest freeway in the most freeway heavy city in the nation because they are unhappy about the results of the election. No, seriously. No one has taken office, no action – regulatory, legislative, or executive order – has happened and yet people are so upset that they have to take to the streets. Frankly, that can be written off to kids throwing a tantrum. I have not seen any data, but I strongly suspect this is young people that have not yet developed sufficient emotional resources to deal with a change election like the one just past.
If only it ended there. I was greeted on Facebook this morning by the announcement of one of my friends starting an online support group, that’s right a support group, for people that were having trouble coping with the results of the election. I kid you not. My Facebook friends, by-and-large, are not spring chickens. This one is not so easy to write off to the vagaries of youth. These are people that ought have the maturity to deal with election results without the need for a support group. I always thought support groups were reserved for people who had actually suffered some harm – cancer survivors, rape victims, that sort of thing. Apparently, simply hearing election results you don’t like is now considered a form of harm.
I recall when Ohio was called for Obama in 2012 and I knew it was over. The seven long years I has spent trying to convince my orthodox Christian brethren of what a wonderful and faithful president my Mormon friend Mitt Romney would make had come to naught. My disappointment was palpable; it filled the room like a San Francisco fog. But at no point did it cross my mind to throw a tantrum, Facebook, freeway, or otherwise. And I sure as heck did not go running off to find a support group.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. If things like what I reported in the first two paragraphs were happening in larger numbers I would have very serious questions about whether the nation was any longer mature enough to support democracy. Fortunately these events are isolated and do not, as of yet, appear to mark a trend of some sort. Nonetheless I see a couple of things happening here that are worthy of comment.
Most of these overreactions are coming from people who either are, or perceive themselves to be, of a minority group. I mention “perceived” because in Los Angeles, where the freeway closure occurred, hispanics are the majority. I pray this marks the nadir of identity politics, Michelle Malkin seems to think so. I am not so optimistic. The less dramatic than those I have cited, but nonetheless emotion filled, negative reactions to the election results that I have encountered indicate just how deeply tribal our politics have become. Such tribalism is very very hard to overcome, particularly in light of my second observation.
For people to have this much emotional upset over an election, meaning that have that much invested in the election, is an indication of a sadly empty life. Such responses reveal a life devoid of other interests of friends and family, and most importantly of faith. If you do not have God, you grab on to something else for the assurances that God should provide in our lives – in this case that is tribe and government.
I see an opportunity. Even for those of us that kind of like the election results, Donald Trump’s impending presidency makes plain that we cannot look to our government for guidance on non-material levels. That’s an opportunity for the church. Donald Trump’s personal life does not reflect our values, but that fact opens up a door for us to stand on our own. The response to this election reveals a hole in so many lives that can only be filled by the love of God and the love of His Body, the church. Are we prepared to fill it? Do we have a strategy to reach those so disaffected by this election’s outcome? They are not going to like us very much, does God’s love shine brighter in our lives than our political positions?
“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
I hear the stones crying. It is time to comfort them.