On the 2016 Presidential Election

The recent presidential election invites four key questions. What is the cause of our extreme polarization? What does the Christian faith have to say to this problem? What is the opportunity in this problem? And therefore, what can we actually do?

Polarization has been present in human experience since the advent of tribalism. There is a cultural sense that says it is us against them. But what drives that is the way we value other people. In spite of the efforts of religion and spiritual wisdom, we do not value people by honoring their essential dignity and remembering that each person is created in the image of the Creator. Instead we value people in terms of power, money and possessions. And we equally important, we devalue people. White people devalue people of color. Urban dwellers, devalue rural folk. Democrats devalue republicans. Men devalue women. Straight people devalue people in the LBGT community. Christians devalue those of other faiths. We who have enough money devalue those who do not have enough. Educated people devalue uneducated people.

The Christian faith suggests we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). That is not about romantic love. It is about learning to love without conditions. This is a lifelong pursuit. Devaluing means we are placing conditions. We must learn to remove them. But Jesus also cautioned us by saying that we will not find the way to leads to peace until we learn to "recognize God's moment when it comes." (Luke 19:41-44) For me this suggests the importance of being spiritual awake and learning spiritual practices to support such awakening.

The opportunity is to find ways to restore value to all people.

There are two things that we can do. We can move forward and in moving forward follow President Obama's wisdom by support Donald Trump's presidency. But should Donald Trump's presidency come into conflict with the substance of the Gospel of Jesus (and this seems very likely), we must be prepared for civil disobedience and non-violent resistance.

We must make the effort to get to know people who are different from us. We must listen to their stories and try to understand the relation between their experiences and their beliefs. People should know that their stories have value, value reflecting their essential value as human beings.

In the film Avatar, the people who live in that section of the universe, when greeting each other say "I see you." "I see you." We do not see each other. If we are to preserve the world and find healing for the polarization and dehumanization, we must see and value each other.