Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Things That Have Not Changed

As I take more time to process last night's surprising election result, I find one thought returning again and again. While it may seem that everything has changed, in fact a number of things - some of the most important things - have not:

• Today I am the same person I was yesterday. I have the same hopes and dreams, the same strengths and weaknesses. One of my chief tasks every day is to be a little bit better than I was yesterday - to be a little kinder, a little more patient, to show a little more love, to be a little bit more like the Christ I profess to follow. That is no different today, and it will be no different tomorrow.

• Today I have a wonderful and loving wife and three amazing children - proof of God's grace in the world, as I have done nothing to deserve any of them and their awesomeness. I still have the same obligations towards them - to love and care for them, to provide for them and their future, and to share our lives together. That is no different today, and it will be no different tomorrow.

• Today I have a job at a university. I have colleagues, superiors, and people across campus and around the community to whom I have obligations to carry out my duties faithfully and to try to advance the mission of the university - a mission of expanding educational access I believe in. I am blessed with a job that is more than merely a means of providing shelter and food - it gives me an opportunity, on its better days, to contribute to an important undertaking that will make things better for our students and the community around us. Despite my frustrations and concerns - this is no different today, and it will be no different tomorrow.

• Today I will meet people - some of whom I have known for a long time and some of whom I may barely have met. I owe those people my respect, my attention, and my best efforts. That is no different today, and it will be no different tomorrow.

• Today I live in a country that is filled with the same people it was filled with yesterday. Elections do not change so much as illuminate. They show us things about ourselves, about what we think, about our hopes and dreams and fears. We will argue for some time about what, exactly, this election showed us, because elections are very poor and cloudy mirrors. But whatever was revealed was already there. We are the same people today, and we will be the same people tomorrow.

I have argued before, in this and other arenas - we place far too much symbolic weight in the singular office of the Presidency. So much of what happens in our lives and in our communities is far, far beyond the concerns or the reach of government in Washington, or our state capitols, or even our local councils and mayors' offices. Yes, government matters, and good governance is important. But so are many other things - thinks like kindness, and respect, and following pathways of service to each other. Much of the time, I think these latter things are more important than the former - they just don't make the headlines.

The coming months will prove a test for my previous, somewhat hyperbolic hypothesis that America is dying. Over time, we will change as a people. The question will be, in what direction? And the answer will be up to us, far more than it will be the result of one man, however powerful.

And so I started my day as I always do, making coffee and cleaning the kitchen, focusing mind and body in exercise, and preparing for the challenges of the day. Whatever happens in the realms beyond my control, I will do what I can at home and in the community to make the world a better place. And that never changes.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that when political issues are beyond our control, we need to focus on a smaller part of the world and do there what we can do for good.