There you are, smack in the middle of a holiday meal with your family.
All the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and other relatives you haven’t seen since last year are gathered around the turkey. As you pass the cranberry sauce, enjoying casual conversation with the one cousin you actually have things in common with, it happens.
Someone from the other side of the table yells, “Well, I know we’re all glad Hillary didn’t win the election!”
Cue the awkward silence.
Navigating post-election season isn’t easy, no matter which side you voted for. But there are some productive ways to cope with the change coming to the White House in January and remain civil with those who are opposite from you in their political views.
Read the Bible and pray.
This sounds like an overly simplistic approach to governmental change and politics in general, but it doesn’t make it ineffective. Having a better understanding of what Scripture says regarding a Christian’s role in politics is helpful. Reading God’s Word gives us eternal insight, something the world around us is greatly lacking.
We see in Philippians 3:20 that a Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven. God is in control of this earth and the things that happen on it. No election surprises Him. Christians must acknowledge this reality and function in this world as those who have hope beyond that offered by anyone in Washington, DC. Pray for God to heal our nation of brokenness and division, and work to be agents of peace in a world desperately needing the love of Christ.
Love your neighbor well.
As a middle-class white man, I have no right to tell a black man how he should or should not feel under the authority of President-elect Donald Trump. That also goes for women, Jewish, Hispanic, Muslim community members or any other group that may feel uneasy about the future under a Trump presidency. There is a great fear among many Americans that an alt-right movement is taking over the nation. When we take the time to study the course of history, we can see the damage that these fringe groups have caused when given credence. However you may feel towards his election or whoever you voted for, you can’t deny that our President-elect has said some unnerving things over the past several months.
Our goal is not to question how serious the rhetoric offered by Trump is. It is also not to test the validity of the feelings of minorities in America. We are to love one another and part of that is sidestepping our own perception and assumptions to better understand other points of view, including those we might not agree with. Failure to show compassion to those fearful of a Trump presidency and the policies that may be enacted is not only selfish, it is blatantly uncharacteristic of a Christ follower. Take time to listen to and love your neighbors, especially ones who don’t look like you.
Take interest in global issues.
We should all have at least some understanding of various global issues that impact people who God loves. We are in an era where global information is literally streamed at our fingertips. We can witness civil protests as they happen on Facebook live and we can be updated second-by-second on natural disasters plaguing the world.
Gaining a better understanding of the conflict in Syria, natural disasters affecting Haiti or terrorism that continually ravages the Middle East and parts of Africa is important because we can then decipher for ourselves the impact Americans can have in those situations. We must see the world beyond just the things going on in our own backyard.
Take a social media break.
A few months ago, I pulled the plug on my nearly 10-year-old Facebook account. Besides being a huge time waster, I found myself tempted to engage in unfruitful conversations with friends around politics. The adage is true: No one’s mind has ever been changed by a Facebook argument and my perception of people—friends I knew personally—was changing simply because they didn’t view things the same way I did. I was no longer loving people the way Christ loves them, simply based from what I learned about them on Facebook.
Take a step back and ask if social media is skewing your love for others. If it is, it may be time to delete or deactivate your account.
Talk to someone you disagree with.
Note the suggestion to talk to someone you disagree with, not argue with them. We just saw a rare election in that, according to a CNN exit poll, nearly half of those who voted had an unfavorable view of both presidential candidates.
We make a lot of assumptions and bad generalizations based on who someone voted for, and that has to change. Every Trump voter isn’t racist, just like every Clinton voter isn’t pro-choice. What makes America great is that we have the freedom to believe what we want and say what we want. That can also be a detractor when our words are abusive and divide more than they build up. We find ourselves devoid of good compromise, the very thing we get so angry at politicians for failing at. Let’s take on a trait we saw little of during the campaign season: respecting each other.
We face uncertain times in the coming four years. And no matter if you are cheerful or fearful about the election results, you can still be respectful and compassionate to those around you.
Former President George W. Bush once said “America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens.” Part of being a good follower of Christ is loving others and being a respectful citizen where you live, even if the person you voted for didn’t win.