Thank God this election cycle is coming to an end. It has been so tortuous, a plot too unbelievable to be penned across pages (Seriously? Anthony Weiner again?!?). We’re all glad to be rid of it, though its bitter taste will last for months, years perhaps. I hope that we can move beyond a post-facts politics driven by fear, reassert a posture of optimism and, dare I say, mutual respect. Time will tell.
But what interests me on the eve of this election is how the same result—the election of either Hillary or Trump—will be heralded as either apocalyptic or a saving grace for our country, with few people’s reactions falling in between. So many of us—myself, at times, included—regard our own views with such certitude. We know that our view is the correct view. We light the beacon of truth or civilization or whathaveyou. Those others are part of the dark tide threatening to drown us all.
Granted, if ever there were an election to be certain about, this would be it. But I see this certitude in issues beyond the presidential candidates. So many of us seem to have the answers so much of the time, about a whole host of issues. My friend the peacenik knows what has led to the cycle of violence in the Middle East, sees a simple path forward to a peaceful resolution. My friend bernin’ for Bernie sees the corruption of money in politics and knows how easy the revolution would be if only Washington would allow it. My friend the conservative holds forth on how laissez-faire economics is the only morally just, God-ordained system. And my libertarian friend proclaims the gospel truth of… whatever it is that libertarians believe.
And I find within myself a different set of rigid certitudes, ones that set my teeth to gnashing whenever someone spouts off anything that deviates from my doctrine. Yet at the same time I don’t view the world in bichromatic black and white, so why do I react this way? I should hold my opinions with a greater sense of humility. If I recognize that the issues of the world are more complex than I, from my static position of race, socio-economic status, age, and background, could ever understand completely, I should stop every once in a while to see if I could maybe learn from those across the aisle.
So that’s my hope for us moving forward. That we would entertain doubts, proclaim less, and listen more. That we would offer our pronouncements about the world more gently, hold our opinions less as etched tablets from Mount Sinai and more as drawings in the sand.
Grace and peace to you all, my friends.