Wednesday, November 7, 2012

homily in a time of soul-stirring victory

I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are conservative, both politically and religiously, and many of them crossed party and denominational lines to return President Obama to office and to overturn some poor legislation that limited others' rights.  For them, the benefit to other people trumped their own views of sound economic policy or morality.

This is hope of my faith, that when it comes down to the edge of the knife, I will do what helps rather than hurts another person.  The point of a faith or a moral code is to help you learn to live a better life, and most say the way to do that is through providing a better life for others.  In very practical, desert-island-type terms, we have nothing if not one another.

Most people understand this.  It's why they vote in the first place.  I'm convinced the policies of the Obama Administration are beneficial to the majority of American people, even if, in the words of the Reagan soundbite, I'm worse off than I was four years ago.  Bad as things are for me, they aren't all that bad.  I'm voting to help the people worse off than I am. 

A lot of people don't see it that way and that's all right.  To paraphrase something from my tradition, we don't have to vote alike to love alike.  A lot of those people are hurt and bruising this morning, the  same way me and my friends were hurt and bruising in 2004.  It's part of our faith, not just as social and religious liberals but as people who care about other people, to be kind to them.  That does not mean we don't point out to them they're wrong because everyone, all the time, needs to give what he and she believes a thorough airing-out, especially after a resounding public defeat.  But it does mean we don't rub their faces in it or taunt them.  It's hard not to do that; I'm already guilty of it myself.  It's a human response to celebrate victory over an opponant especially when that opponant has led you a hard race.  So while we need to get that out of our systems, we can't let it become our sole response to this victory.  We learned something from the way the president responded to his victory, tweeting, not a snide dismissal of the opposition or a glorification of himself, but the words "four more years"--no emphasis--and a photo of he and his wife embracing.  That is what an election ought to be about: embracing one another.  There's a time for celebration--we've earned it--and then there's work. 

If you were on the victors' side, take this opportunity to cheer.  Cheering is good for the lungs.  If you were not, be as gracious in defeat as you would have expected of us.  And then smile, embrace, and get to work.  We have a hell of a lot to do.

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