Election 2020 is well underway and I have to say that I am already concerned about the rhetoric on both sides. I am not quite sure why I am surprised. Actually I am! After such a divisive 2016 election, on both sides, why do you and I accept a repeat this time around? Why do we find ourselves worked up about an issue or candidate someone has told us about, rather than doing our homework on the issue and forming our own thoughts and opinions?
This past week, I began reading, “Leadership” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is an outstanding book, looking at the leadership journeys of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. Something that has made such an impact upon me is that, although, these four men were very different in their upbringing and, for the most part, the times in which they lived, they each were inquisitive about the world around them.
There is a lack of inquisitiveness in our country, and every facet of who we are as a nation suffers as a result. You need look no further than social media for an example of what I mean. Posts are shared and forwarded without any thought given to their factuality. IF you are really who you say you are (or who I think you are) and fit into the definition of this box or that, you will not only agree to “fact-less”, emotionally-supercharged, comments, but you will not even think about questioning the source because if and when you do, you have unknowingly agreed to an attack on your faith, intelligence, and/or patriotism.
- I love the church that I attend. But I do not need my pastor or any religious leader, for that matter, to tell me how to vote or what to think about the current events of the day.
- I love all of my friends that I connect with via social media, but our friendship and my respect for you as a person and love for you as a friend is not dependent upon whether or not I subscribe to your political leanings.
- I love this country, not because it is or will ever be perfect.
- I do not have to belong to a specific political party to prove to anyone that I love my country or that I love my God. Both of the two major party systems in the United States are full of flawed individuals who are in need of God’s grace. Both of the two major party systems in the United States have been hypocritical in their political stances at one point or the other in the past and will most definitely do so in the future. I am registered with one of them, but I always do my homework each election cycle and pick the candidate who I believe will fulfill their constitutional responsibility. My political party of choice does not usurp my right and ability to be inquisitive about the issues & prayerfully make the best choice about which candidate I believe should hold office.
- It is not un-American to question the words and actions of our political leaders — including the President (the one you voted or didn’t vote for). It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” I can pray for President Trump’s safety and wisdom…or President “whomever”..and at the same time question & call out their decisions and leadership on an issue.
- When it comes to politics, I don’t need cable news to dictate my political beliefs. All radio and television news channels, like the political candidates they report on, are flawed individuals who, have the ability (and choice) to share a one-sided story. If you and I truly do not like spin or “fake news,” then we can individually choose to do our homework and share all sides of the issue, not just the side that agrees with our team or that mischaracterizes the other. Remember….No one is forcing anyone to tune in for one-sided perpetual breaking news OR for sharing it on social media.
What difference will one, respectful, informed post this election season have? Well, I am glad you asked! Just last night, Felicity and I were reading about a man watching a young girl, walking up and down the beach, tossing the wayward starfish back into the ocean. The man mockingly said to her, “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up he beach. What difference can saving a few of them make?” The young girl, tossing another starfish into the deep replied, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.”
I am an inquisitive, prayerful, direct optimist who believes each of us has a part to play in our spheres of influence — including social media. By doing just a little bit today — being intentional about our facts and our passionate posts, what we say and how we say it, I have overwhelming hope that our collective little will bring about a resounding difference tomorrow.