Election 2020: Does someone have to lose?
I get it. We still don’t know—officially. The results of the Presidential election are not complete. But we will know this in time. Someone will win. Someone will lose.
But does someone have to lose?
Ah, I hear it now. The soft left is making another case why every kid on the junior soccer team needs a trophy because everyone is a winner. That’s not it, folks. This isn’t it. This isn’t over. And I pray this isn’t bitter for many. I pray this is the start to something better.
So, I ask again, does someone have to lose?
I get the victor thing. I’m not challenging this. I am, however, wondering how we, as Americans, can listen to each other. I don’t mean perpetuating the garbage-laden, hate-filled words that have stained the nation; I mean the practice of actually coming together from different backgrounds and political beliefs and listening—really listening—so that no voice is lost. So that, yes, no one loses.
I am not a skilled political person but am a leader. Specifically, I am a pastoral leader. I return and return to the theology of the Communion table when it comes to winners, losers, and a polarization that, even if heightened by some in the media, can be knocked down, or, preferably, knocked out altogether.
Among those not so perfect and the one who would soon betray him, Jesus, when breaking bread and offering wine, made this indirectly clear: there is a place at the table for all of us.
Now, speaking of tables, Thanksgiving is now weeks away. Imagine sitting at the T-day feast with half the seats empty around you. When it comes to the turkey, let there be no pun on the phrase “birds of a feather,” and, yes, it is easier to sit with those with more in common over those with less in common with you, but what is Thanksgiving? A solo act?
It isn’t. Thanksgiving, like the Communion table, is meant to be shared not by some but all. The joy of the day—the joy of us being a nation of differences—is that through the differences we have the joy of giving thanks. Specifically, we have the joy of giving thanks to God.
Some of us may really like to repeat and repeat our own stories. The richness of life, however, is the universality of a God who reaches, teaches, illuminates, inspires, challenges, and, above us, saves us—all of us—through His Son. This saving is necessary not optional because of this truth: we cannot save ourselves.
With or without a turkey in front of us, THIS is to be celebrated. And celebrations? These are best not in a crowd of two, but 200, 2,000, 200 thousand or beyond.
How do we sit (literally and metaphorically) when it comes to differences? To answer, I want us all to consider what it means to listen. This was the subject in the first course I had as a doctoral student in ministry. Titled Listening Is An Act Of Love, I knew this semester-long study might sound like easy or familiar territory. Pastors are required to listen, after all. It’s a must-have skillset. But listening with love? This is more. If we want our nation to heal and unify, and I trust this is the goal (or should be a goal) for Christians and non-Christians alike, then while it’s ideal that this love starts from the top and works its way down, and here I am thinking of the President of the United States, we of faith do have a top leader and it isn’t anyone who sits behind a desk, glad handshakes, wheels and deals, or kisses babies.
As much as this love comes from the top, it also comes from the bottom, that is, the people. Us. To this, I offer two more questions. What is it going to take for us not just to listen, but to listen with love? What will be required?
I know a few hard heads in my life. You do too, if you think about it. You may be one of them.
What does a hard head need? More hard? Not at all. This gets everyone no where.
All of us can be hard heads because we can all get stuck. And love can be shown by listening. Specifically, love can be shown by restating or, even better, rephrasing, what you’ve heard from a place modeled for us by Christ whose goal is to know us so that we, in turn, can know Him.
This may help us to listen, truly listen. Think of a time you’ve needed advice. The best advice doesn’t begin with, “Well, if I were you…” It begins with, “Well, it sounds like you’re…”
Work from within. And don’t do it do conquer. Do it because, well, hello, it needs to be done.
Yes, it needs to be done. And it needs to be done now.
Our nation’s vitality and abilities (plural) rest not on its leaders alone but its people together.
A hot head inspired this writing when he wrote of one candidate, “Well, if [he] wins, he’s not my President.”
Let’s stop that thinking. How? Understand there are endless places at the table.
Let’s not just understand this table potential. Let’s invite this.
This blog, unlike the others, has been significantly changed since this first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on Wednesday, November 4th. I am understandably limited by space in the paper. Here I did more than add on;, I used the gift of my deadline and the hours since to reconsider and revamp a good bit of what is written here. I’m grateful for the time (and the space here).