Shortly after Donald Trump became the President Elect, people took to the streets. Usually, when we gather in the streets after a stunning victory like his, it’s to celebrate—especially in the good old USA. This time, not so much…
The people in the streets were demonstrators—in some cases, rioters. Fires were set using rubbish, images of Trump, and American flags as fuel. Chants of “not my president” and “f— Trump” were shouted into the night air. Streets and highways were blocked, causing traffic jams. Train delays were instigated. At least one person was hit by a car.
Get a Grip!
These occurrences were almost minor in comparison to what happened on the Internet. Announcements began to pop up for anti-Trump rallies from now through inauguration day. People took to Twitter to call for the assassination of Trump and Pence causing the Secret Service a few overtime hours.
“Getting a grip” does not seem to be a common practice these days. Almost 60 million people voted for Trump. A tad more than that voted for Clinton. Not counting third party candidates, we were roughly split down the middle. On election night, it felt like the seventh game of the World Series. Unfortunately, the aftermath didn’t resemble those emotions at all.
I understand feeling bad when your candidate loses. I’m almost sixty-seven years old and have been through it many times. I have to say, however, I’ve never been tempted to call for someone’s head, threaten to leave my country, or destroy someone’s property. Where does this attitude come from?
I’m sure any meaningful response to that is extremely complicated. But the simple answer is this—for some reason, we now see everything in black and white (and I don’t mean skin color). We can’t seem to detect grayish hues anymore. Either you’re for me or against me–truly good or perfectly evil–positively right or all wrong–my true-blue friend or my mortal enemy.
“Many of us don’t care to know others…”
Years ago, when Ronald Reagan won his upset victory over Jimmy Carter, a flabbergasted reporter declared, “I don’t know anyone who voted for him!” That little statement speaks volumes.
Many of us don’t care to know others who differ from us. We surround ourselves with people who look, act and think like we do. We end up speaking into an echo chamber, and we never come to an understanding of why they’re different. The end result can be fear, hatred, and extreme mistrust.
Those of us who are followers of Christ are called to be different than that. Jesus instructed us to get to know people and reach out to them. When you really know people, it’s not as easy to shove them into a stereotypical category. We no longer see their views and attitudes as black or white—they start to appear in varying shades of gray. We begin to see them as real people like us—not as extremists trying to do us in.
If we adopt that attitude, we may even love the new president.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]