The Election: Not Really Over

This election season, I’ve been more tuned in and engaged than ever before, reading news items, listening to commentary.  I didn’t know the word pundit until now.  I’ve also been ready for it to be over for quite a while now, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Thing is, it’s not over after today.  Regardless of the outcome, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth as one side or the other bemoans the end of America and all we hold dear.

But you know who won’t really talk about it?  People who disagree with other.  All the chatter will be reserved for people we know think like us and voted like us.  On the whole, we won’t discuss the outcome with someone who is celebrating if we’re crabby, or vice-versa.

I am guilty of this.  My party line is that we should be able to disagree with each other.  In theory I want to have civil discourse with those who see politics differently than I do.  In reality, I talk 97% of the time to people who agree with me.  And that other 3%?  It makes me tired the way crafts make me tired.

It is so challenging to be generous to one another when we disagree.  Especially about politics.

Curtis has a colleague in his doctorate who spent a season practicing what she called the spiritual discipline of charitable interpretation.  I love that.

I suck at that.

But today, I’m going to do my best to do just that in a few concrete ways:

1.  I’m going to resist labeling.  I will not put a word onto someone–conservative, liberal, right or left–unless they self-describe as such.  I will also refrain from using the modifiers ultra-, far- or hyper-.

2.  I will assume that if someone didn’t vote, there was a reason.

True story:  last night, I went online to iron out details for voting. I knew I had registered, but pre-election materials had never arrived.  Well, apparently I’m not in the system.  Despite having registered since moving to this county.  Three times.

I’ve been registered for a decade.  I voted from Costa Rica.  WHYAMINOTINTHISCOUNTY’SSYSTEM?

And of course I looked into all of this after 5pm the night before the election.

I will be trying to figure this out Tuesday, so hopefully I will still get to vote.  But if I meet someone who didn’t vote, I will choose to believe that they too tried to update it three times and weren’t in the system.

3.  I’m going to trust their faith, if they happen to share in the Christian tradition.  I will believe that they have read the Bible, prayed about their vote, and tried to mark their ballot accordingly.

4.  Regardless of how someone voted, I will believe that they like, care about, and are grateful for this country.  And it’s ok if that does not get expressed the same way by them as it does by me.  I am admittedly, not very patriotic.  But I’m sincerely appreciative.  So whether you do “patriotism” or “exceptionalism” or not, I will not accuse you of belonging less to our country.

And I would ask others to do the same for me.

5 thoughts on “The Election: Not Really Over

  1. I love that phrase too, “spiritual discipline of charitable interpretation” I wish more people on both sides tried to look at the motivation behind those they disagree with, I try to do this too, but agree it is a challenge. Obama doesn’t want to see America a weak as possible, Paul Ryan doesn’t want to push granny off the cliff. I am probably 180 deg from you politically on many issues, but I enjoy challenging myself by reading your posts. Thank you for understanding that it is not a lack of concern for the poor, but a difference in opinion of how to best help them and roles of goverment and personal and private charities in this regard. As Chirstians we should always be making excuses for the sins of others, believing that we ourselves are chief among sinners.

    Wish you and Curtis lived closer to Michigan

    • Isn’t it a great phrase? And it really is a discipline–it so does not come naturally to me. Thanks for reading, especially if we disagree on politics.

      And I have to say, I have a lot of Michigan love, even if I’ve never been. (In fact, the woman who gave us the phrase is from Holland!) Someday, I hope we’ll visit, but only when the Dairy Queen is open.

      • One day you may want to take a look at Alan Jacobs, A THEOLOGY OF READING: THE HERMENEUTICS OF LOVE (ignore the intimidating title), where he makes the case for “charitable interpretation” in our reading, an idea that he finds first in Augustine.

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