In The Wake Of Election Day

by Rev . Dr. Dan De Leon

This week has been appropriately dreary.

Tuesday night ended another election in our country.  Today our emotionally jostled citizenry is sifting through the ashes of yard signs, campaign contribution receipts, and “I Voted” stickers.

Maybe it’s because of the rise of social media that’s connected me with the unbridled commentary of hundreds of people of all political stripes.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been serving churches for nearly 20 years where I’ve witnessed the bi-annual tensions of a faith family not knowing what is appropriate to say around each other as Election Day draws near.

All I know is that no matter what the results—whether ecstatically in my own selfish favor or bitterly opposed to it—the day after an election always leaves me cold.

In the wake of Election Day, for the beaming victors, it is tempting to channel the inner football fan and pour “in your face” sentiments into cyberspace.  For everyone else, it is tempting to crawl into a corner of indifference and find solace in distractions.

But underneath our anxious temptations is an inescapable truth that binds us, one unto the other, regardless of any election cycle:  We belong to each other, and everyone is fighting a hard battle inside.

I return to this quote again and again, especially on days like today.  It’s been attributed to anyone from Plato to Buddhist sayings to Ian MacLaren, the pen name of Rev. John Watson: “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle,” or, “Be kind.  Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”

Elections come and go, but we still belong to one another.

From a Christian perspective, this translates to the Body of Christ, in which each individual is an essential part of a Divine whole.  Consequently, when one member of this Body hurts, the whole feels it; unless, of course, the whole is numbed from succumbing to its individual temptations.

In the wake of Election Day, each member of the Body is summoned to “be kind,” because the gentle breath of compassion is more powerful than the force of any political winds.

Jesus spent his ministry surrounded by disciples, tax collectors, centurions, prostitutes, lepers, Pharisees, Sadducees, criminals, fishermen, stone masons, lawyers, Roman governors, scribes, teachers of the law, rich people, poor people, Jews, and Samaritans (to name a few).

Jesus was steeped in the anxious stew of their politics, and he had consistent compassion for all of them.  

In the end, the people’s anxiousness about politics led to Jesus’ demise; but even then he said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

How was Jesus able to love everyone he met, to perform healing miracles, to teach a consistent message of inclusiveness, to stand before the powers of this world without flinching, to maintain nonviolent activism, to exemplify “perfection” by never succumbing to the sins of gloating or indifference?  Compassion.

He recognized that every human being is fighting a hard battle inside, that every child of God is carrying a heavy burden of some sort; and as such he approached everyone with kindness. In the wake of another election, may we cling to compassion when we are tempted to lord pride over one another or to retreat from each other.

Be kind, for we belong to one another, and each of us in our own way is fighting a hard battle inside today.

Originally published by Friends Congregational Church (UCC); Photo via flickr user WAMU 88.5