@Post16Election 3 Things You Can Do After the Election

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The U.S. campaign for president has consumed every channel of media for a year.

It’s been contentious, coarse, and painful. All sides have engaged in an all out assault on what the Bible describes as truthful integrity: “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

On the Sunday before the election, consider what the Body of Christ has to offer to a suffering, fractured nation. In Christ, there is no Republican or Democrat, no Libertarian or Green Party. We are one body, with Christ as our head and heart.

Here are three things you can do to help restore right relationships after the election:

  1. Seek out someone who has a diametrically opposed view and invite them to coffee to listen to try to understand their point of view. (See Chuck Gutenson’s short essay on talking across your disagreements.)
  2. As a church reach out to communities who are feeling more vulnerable as a result of the elections and engage with them in dialogue about how we can protect one another.
  3. Come together as people of faith for a community-based Forgiveness & Reconciliation Walk encompassing all of the decisions made in the elections. (Remember: Judgement paralyzes, but forgiveness walks. See Mark 2:1-12 and 2:13-17.)

In Catholic churches we are closing out the year of mercy, but mercy never goes out of style. Perhaps preach a “Keep Mercy Alive” sermon or insert it into your prayers. Mercy is always a vocation in the body of Christ.

Perhaps your community will be involved in voter protection initiatives such as Witness the Vote. The American democratic system of “one person, one vote” is the most successful nonviolent transfer of power that we have every seen. Protect it.

After the election results are in, there may be anger spewed across social media or even in the streets. Does your church have a peace team ready to respond? Do you have a social media meme or quotes or prayers ready that will de-escalate anger?

For many of us, the elections have become a poor substitute for “anger management.” Instead of dealing with the incredible isolation, racial resentment, lack of human dignity, economic disenfranchisement, and frustration in our country, we try to take it out at the polls. Ultimately this is very unsatisfying. Our “heroes” never really have our best interest at heart, no matter what they say on the campaign trail.

Christ has our best interest in mind. After the election? Do what Jesus would do.

Rose Marie Berger, a Catholic peace activist and poet, is a senior associate editor at Sojourners magazine in Washington, D.C.

 

 

The Joy of “Keeping Custody” of One’s Self

Catholic culture of an earlier era taught about “keeping custody” of one’s tongue, one’s mind, one’s eyes, one’s body. For example, “keeping custody of one’s eyes” meant that a person was very careful about what she allowed herself to see (cf Job 31:1; Mat 5:28; Psalm 119:37 etc.). It might mean focusing one’s gaze on the cross during prayer and not letting your eyes wander every time someone new entered the room.

According to Neilsen ratings, the average American is exposed to 1600 advertisements per day. Keeping custody of one’s eyes and ears has spiritual as well as political ramifications.

Keeping custody of one’s tongue meant “mindfulness” about speaking and silence, tone and tenor. The concept of “keeping custody” both roots in our own authority, power, and responsibility and also develops spiritual habits and practices that orient us toward what is essential and relegate to the margins what is non-essential. It’s a practice that quiets the heart and calms the spirit.

For those of us who spend a lot of time online there are actually free downloadable software apps that block advertisements. Consider whether one of these “overapps” might be good for your soul.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
Unknown