Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reflections on the Obama Victory

I went to a church Christian Education committee meeting last night. Obviously, the election results were of interest, so we watched the television a bit while we waited for the rest of the committee to arrive. I hedged a few of my statements while watching the results at first, not sure where people stood, and not desiring to get into an argument, but it soon became clear that people either were more or less on the same side as I was, or at least were respectful in their disagreement. We had to turn off the news in order to conduct the meeting, so by the time we were done, it was already clear that Obama had secured more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. At least one person present expressed excitement over this victory. This was such a refreshing change from what seemed to be a predominant atmosphere of "Christian=vote against Obama" (more than "vote for McCain" to be honest) that I was seeing through so much of my online reading, both generally and also among old friends and acquaintances via Facebook.

I enter the post-election era with excitement, myself. I truly didn't believe, only a few years ago, that I would see an African-American voted as President of the United States within the next couple of decades, let alone just a couple of years later. While I don't agree with Obama in all respects, I truly believe that he can lead our nation through some of the difficult times ahead, if only he is given a chance to do so (I still remain concerned about assassination attempts in the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead, and would ask that Obama's safety, and that of his family, be in your prayers. Even if you didn't want him as President, I think that such prayer is the proper Christian response, and ask for your support in that area, even if you don't feel you can support him or his policies as President).

I also enter this era afraid for other reasons. I mentioned a weeks ago that I'm concerned about keeping the peace within my family. I don't want to get into fights, but as a recent weekend visit proved, political discussions pretty much always come up, and to the extent that hateful or unfair things are said, it really goes against my grain to just "let it go." I'm constantly reminded of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke (although he seems not to have originated it) "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." (Yes, I have referenced this before. I think it's an important thought to remember.)

On the other hand, I'm reluctant to push back too hard if there's no chance that the family member will be impacted by my resistance. Is it really worth it? Part of "moving on" would also be to let non-essentials pass without a fight. But what are the non-essentials here? If a certain family member insists on saying that Democrats are responsible for all the economic ills of the country (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), or that Obama will cause us to be attacked by terrorists again, what is to be gained by pointing out that there is little merit to these claims, now that the election is over? What is to be gained by pushing back if someone questions my faith (despite the fact that I'm the one who studied in seminary, got an MDiv, and is still pursuing a call to church ministry) because I supported Obama? (There, I said it.) These are issues that go beyond mere disagreement, and into very personal areas.

Craig Detweiller seems to have heard many of the same kinds of attacks I have, and wonders if we are ready to be agents of reconciliation. But there's a lot of pain to work through--on both sides, I expect. Although this election wasn't as close as either of the last two elections (in terms of the popular vote, that is), I feel that it was far more vitriolic. Can we get past that? I hope so, but my hope is still infected by fear.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts here B-W. I think facebook DRASTICALLY changed this election - it made all of the interactions more intense, real-time, and cut throat. We were a lot more out in the open and it is still interesting to see all the comments coming from those I know back in the midwest (who are, I am sure, going to unfriend me anyday now...) :)

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