Saddened By The Vitriol…

I sit here watching Obama’s acceptance speech. And it is an amazing thing. I voted for him today. My wife voted for him today. And I am proud of the countless hours that we spent toiling over our decision. In the end we made a decision to vote for a man who puts forth a vision of bringing healing to the broken, the poor, the weak, the neglected, not just in America but in the world, in a way that America has not known in recent decades. And tonight, I am more proud to be an American than perhaps at any time in my life. Just perhaps we have shown each other and the world that we are ready and able to come to the table of the world community with a different stance, a different agenda.

But I am also saddened. As I have sat hear watching the election coverage I have seen nothing but gracious words of honor and respect from both sides of the media, from Senator McCain himself, and from countless other commentators. And as we watch, my wife is carrying on multiple coversation threads on Facebook. Many of those discussions involve acquaintances and friendships that extend back 15-20 years. Most of them are with individuals who count themselves as committed conservative evangelical Christians, and I am saddened by their vitreol. Many of them are saying angry things some of which are specifically pointed at my wife because of her vote. Many of them are saying that Christians who voted for Obama must not have thought hard enough not realizing that we agonized for days and weeks trying to discover direction and truth. Many of them are saying that Christians who voted for Obama must not care about unborn babies not realizing that we agonized over whether or not it was responsible for us to be single issue driven. Many of them are saying that because Obama is now President Elect that evil has taken over the United States not realizing that a great racial divide which seemed insurmountable just a few years ago has now been crossed. Many of them are saying things about Obama as a man, thinking that they themselves hold all the truth, not realizing that almost everyone holds a little piece of truth that they may not have. I could go on and on, but I don’t see the point. However, it saddens me to see that people who claim the grace and mercy and forgiveness and redemption and justice and hope and tolerance and inclusion that Christ preached, often have so little of it themselves. I no longer consider myself of part of that kind of faith. I want my faith to have much more room in it than that.


14 responses to “Saddened By The Vitriol…

  1. CONGRATULATIONS………As I sat and watched history in the making, I felt tears in my eyes. Not very often am I moved by political actions, but it was obvious by the look on almost everyones faces(well maybe not republicans) ;) that the you and the world have experienced an incredible change. Though it may be a while before we see the full benefit of this change it was exhilirating to be a part of history. I heard someone say that what makes The United States so unique is the fact that 8yrs ago you could elect someone like George W. Bush and now have the flexibility to elect a man like Barack Hussein Obama. The Sun shines a little brighter on you and the world today. Your children will be proud that their parents made a good “informed” decision.

  2. I wouldn’t judge you friends too harshly. It has been a very, very long and fraught campaign. There has been a tremendous amount of emotion invested in all of this, with partisans on both sides trying to whip it into a frenzy. With so much energy and emotion invested in the outcome, people are going to get irrational at the end. I can honestly say that, if McCain won, I would be pretty irrational myself – though I’d lean more towards despondency than anger.

    Anyway, I think a better measure of their natures will come after Obama’s first few months in office. If they still harbor resentment then, you can re-evaluate them. But right now, I wouldn’t take anything people say as being representative of their real natures.

  3. “8yrs ago you could elect someone like George W. Bush and now have the flexibility to elect a man like Barack Hussein Obama.”

    I’m not sure ‘flexibility’ is the word. The Onion has a suggestion on how a black man with a semitic name got elected:
    [warning: profane]

  4. TFT. Thanks for your admiration for us here in the US. It truly is an amazing process, and it was an amazing night. I was genuinely excited as I watched Obama give his acceptance speech. He appears strong, and contrary to what Limbaugh and Hannity are saying, I believe that he will govern toward the center. It is an exciting day for the US and the world.

    Josh. You’re right, and I don’t feel internally that I am judging them. I hope my post did not come across as harsh judgment. Having previously lived within those boundaries and this really being the first time I have genuinely found myself on the other side of them, the experience was strange. My wife was actually tearful not because she was so much hurt personally by what was said but more because she could see how hateful it looked. And we used to be a part of that. I am so relieved and at peace to be free from that kind of faith. Thanks for reading.

  5. Your stance saddens me. It is a path I have had to take. It is a lonely walk and a difficult one. Accept the hate you feel and at the same time push through it. In the end you must again love these people that chose to place their love for you on a fine needle, a balancing act of acceptance. Christ was disfigured by these people, and loved them to death.

    God gave them freedom to choose, including the freedom to chose to ignore the spirit of love and acceptance. They trade their compassion for dollars, respect, power, acceptance. They trade their love for truth as they see it, forgetting that there lies beneath us all a rumble…a power … a spirit that surpasses all knowledge. That is the rumble of god, of mother earth, of love, of a truth that we are all a part of: humans struggling to know the face of God.

    Faith implies doubt. Doubt implies compassion. Compassion implies acceptance and love. We are all in this together.

  6. Matches. I am not sure how to take “your stance saddense me.” Clear it up for me a bit. Do you mean that I appear to have taken a bitter and angry position against those of whom I speak? If this is what you mean, I apologize for sounding that way. It is not want I meant to convey. If you though mean that you can relate to where I am and feel compassion for me in this story, then I accept your grace and love and appreciate your friendship even if it is mostly on cyberpaper for the time being. Thanks for checking on me.

  7. Jesus talked about how following his path could cause turmoil in current relationship.. you know the whole “”If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” in Luke 14:26.

    the path of Christ is hard and lonely at times… but Jesus never said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it. I feel Obama in his speech offered us the same message… healing the country will take time and there will be mistakes, false starts and such… but we’re in it together.

    Can’t get much more of a Christian message that than IMO.


  8. Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to call you out for judging them. It’s simply that I empathize with these people a little bit. I recognize where they are, because it’s not far from where I was in 2004. Granted, I was more despondent than angry, and so I was more pathetic than ugly, but the idea is still the same.

    Most of these people are saying things that they’ll regret in six months. They’ll become more reasonable as time goes on. I don’t think the ugliness is in them, I think it’s in the political campaign that we’ve been fighting.

  9. it was the latter. i was referring to your final statement ‘I no longer consider myself of part of that kind of faith. I want my faith to have much more room in it than that.’ For me, I had to move through a type of death and rebirth of faith. It’s not as pretty as it used to be, but it’s mine.

  10. tsk, tsk, tsk…who is anyone to tell anyone how their heart should be moved one direction or another? How frustrating to deal with the judgment of others…especially when they are proclaiming to be Christians. I don’t think there’s a commandment on how we are to exercise our God given right to vote – Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, etc…Who knows the Mind of God or how He is choosing to work in our individual lives, hearts and minds – OR how He is choosing to work in our country.
    It’s turns me off when people think they know the answer to everything. My eyes glaze over and my deafness kicks in. No one has it all together.

  11. “it saddens me to see that people who claim the grace and mercy and forgiveness and redemption and justice and hope and tolerance and inclusion that Christ preached, often have so little of it themselves”

    It also saddens me to see that people who claim the grace and mercy and forgiveness and redemption and justice and hope and tolerance and inclusion that [insert anyone influential who speaks of these platitudes] spoke of, often have so little of it themselves.

    my point is this: while some people who voted for mccain are open-minded individuals, and some people who voted for obama are open-minded individuals, the fact is that most people are not. and, like driving ability, most people probably think they are above average in open-mindedness. the fact is that most people, who concern themselves with politics anyway, have some of their identity wrapped up in it. I sense that the “vitriol” you see comes from every losing side in every election. (I agree it is hard, though, when it’s done in the name of christ—because that’s a big part of my identity…) but, due to, I believe, fairly low average degrees of open-mindedness, most people have been shown how to adopt their political identities by the powerful persuasion of others and do not really understand what they are saying. furthermore, I think that many obama supporters would be just as “vitriolic” toward mccain supporters if mccain had won—even though obama has spoken at length about acceptance, tolerance, respect, etc.

    my favorite moment in this election season? sitting down with my computer last week going through the list of local candidates on to decide who to vote for in local elections. I had limited knowledge going in, no media filters, no commercial inundation, and no distractions. I was able to compare written statements from all candidates in all parties and decide who I wanted to vote for. imagine if that’s how I could have decided who to vote for in the presidential election.

    I imagine that most people have a little animosity/bewilderment/frustration (if they’re honest, at least) with those who voted for “the other guy” for president. but I must say that I don’t harbor any ill will toward other people who voted for the other guys/gals in the local elections. why? I voted my conscience but was not personally invested in these outcomes. no part of my identity was wrapped up in this. I don’t even know who won some of these races yet. and this is where I see christ in all this election madness. if your identity is in christ it doesn’t matter who wins. vitriol from the other side will run off the back and the christian will be able to move on.

    christians have been very vocal on both sides of the aisle this election. “christians should vote for x because y.” justification of why a christian should vote one way or the other. blah, blah, blah. these justifications, I feel, are contrived at best. christ did not support or endorse any political figures that I know of (if you know otherwise I will redact this). if you believe that all good things are of god, and recognize that there is some good in both politicians, you must recognize that there are “christian” qualities in, and therefore christian reasons to vote for each candidate. and who are we to put a hierarchy on the qualities and character of christ (except love–’tis the greatest of these)? if your guy can say no wrong and the other guy can say no right you are a partisan hack. stop justifying your vote by building arguments out of your “faith”. incorporate your faith into your vote and leave it at that.

    I wish we, all open-minded people of course, could shed the identity politics, vote our consciences and then move on. no bitterness. no gloating. excitement and frustration is to be expected, but the winning side must be gracious in victory and the losing side honorable in defeat. be critical of policies, not of people—likewise do not feel persecuted when others are critical of your policy positions. this is long, but I really needed to get it off my chest. very therapeutic. thanks, doug, for providing a venue.

    who’s your money on for 2012? just kidding.

  12. Teason. Thanks for providing the detail that you had inside. I am glad that you felt you could put down everything you needed to say and that you found the arena to do it. I hope that I have acted in the way you describe this election season. I feel that I have, but maybe the fact that I posted this entry means that I did not. That’s not clear to me. My intent was to say just what I did, that I am saddened by the lashing out in anger on both sides, especially from those who identify openly that they are followers of Christ (another situation cropped up at work on Wednesday with widely known very conservative “Christians” really publicly lashing out against a fellow follower of Christ for voting for Obama). Not to pass judgment.

    I especially like to things that you said…

    “if your identity is in christ it doesn’t matter who wins.” That is true for sure. Christ did not care who was in charge politically. All that mattered to him was acting out in love and grace and acceptance of those who least deserved based on human reason.

    “stop justifying your vote by building arguments out of your ‘faith’. incorporate your faith into your vote and leave it at that.” In the past I did the former. None of those elections were a challenge for me. This year was such a struggle because I did the latter. Thanks for sharing.

    Calana. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I haven’t stirred up the world in which we both reside too much. You said something interesting that I would like to question you on, that being our “God given right to vote.” I haven’t ever thought of the right to vote in that manner. I would like know how you have determined that to be true. Just interested.

  13. ooo, I just used a term I’ve heard all my life being raised in the USA. Maybe I should have said “our American right to vote”. :)

  14. Yes. I think that the word “American” is more appropriate. Thanks for clarifying.

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