Taking a look at my Facebook and Twitter feed this morning has triggered the pastoral response in me. So many people are overjoyed. So many people are in obvious pain. I feel like the smart thing to do before I get to the “horse-race” and political analysis stuff that I love so much (I really do love it. I know it’s weird but I do.), is to try and offer some humble suggestions about how to be good to one another in the wake of a bitter election.
01 Rise Above
It takes two to tango. Don’t swing at bad pitches when your friends from the other side (whichever side), bait you on social media or even in person. You can set the tone for your interactions by rising above anything meant to sew seeds of discord. You have to rise above it. If they came to fight, don’t engage. One of the best proactive things you can do is put up a friendly Facebook status and attempt to approach the other side with grace and humility. Make the first move. Celebrate passion and the fact that people really care about our common life and our society, but don’t get sucked into an argument.
I posted this on my Facebook status. I worked hard on the language and I mean every single word:
“To my friends on the political right just wanted to say that I love you and I celebrate your passion and heart. I know you are stinging a bit this morning so I’m praying for you and hoping that the feeling goes away soon. All shall be well & not because of politicians or nations. For my friends on the political left. I love you and I’m sincerely glad you had a good night last night. I celebrate your passion and heart as well. Please don’t rub anyone’s nose in their defeat. You can gloat in private of course, but as good as the election results feel to you is how bad it feels to them. Everyone please try and keep your cool on Facebook today. Be good to one another. Be kind. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2”
02 Write / Delete
If you are ticked about the election and are tempted to write a diatribe to express your frustrations, you should write it. Then you should delete it. It will be good to get it out, but you shouldn’t let other people see it – especially not everyone who is friends with you on Facebook. I promise you that it will only make things worse, and the end it will not make you feel better to put it out there.
I’m reading things from friends on Facebook right now that are evidence of a lot of pain. Parents are recommending everything from telling your children they owe the federal government $51,000 a piece, to folks saying this was America’s last chance – better buy canned goods and plant a garden because it’s all going to hell from here. (There are some crazy things from the winning side to – Messiah complexes to be sure). It’s good to express the pain. But posting your Dennis Miller rant will only do two things.
- First, it will allow you to wallow in despair and frustration with other despairing and frustrated people. It’s not healthy. It feeds on itself and will only serve to magnify the pain and trap you in a cycle of anger and cynicism.
- Second, you will hurt those you love. It’s a terrible thing to transmit your pain to those around you, those you love, and your friends on Facebook and Twitter. I spoke with a woman today whose husband has been ranting and raving since last night without a break. He’s in so much pain about this election and he is forcing his pain down her throat right now. It’s not fair. Not every emotion you have is helpful to put out there in social space. Have your response. Express your feelings in words if necessary. Then hit delete & go do something relaxing.
03 Pray For Those Who Persecute You
Words are powerful things. They can call into being all manner of things. Many of those who supported Romney are hurting today, and many of them will lash out. Many of those who supported Obama will be doing some gloating, responding to the laments from their friends on the right, or yelling “scoreboard” all day. Both sides will be tempted to lock and load and engage the darkness. Whatever response you encounter – healthy or unhealthy – our first response should be to pray for those who we feel are attacking or slighting us. Pray first, before you engage. Pray for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. If you can’t respond from those virtues, keep praying. Then return to numbers 01 and 02.
I’m working a couple of articles with analysis and response to last night’s election results. Keep checking back to Paperback Theology and I’ll put them up when they are finished. Or follow me on Twitter: @Tim_Suttle