Politics divides. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been a “political” person, since basically the first step of politics is choosing sides. I find common ground with both sides, which complicates choosing one over the other. But there are times when choosing becomes an unavoidable duty; for many Americans that is never more true than during a presidential election year.
Normally at this point in the race, I’d have slapped a sticker on my van and patiently awaited the results in November. If I’m honest, I’ve always been content knowing regardless of who wins the White House, things in my quiet, obscure, suburban American life will stay relatively the same. Not so this year.
This year, I have an unsettled spirit within me, and I cannot remain blissfully neutral. I see people not just uniting behind a candidate, but fixated with them. I see people ditching lifelong values for the sake of being on a winning team. And most of all, I see a lot of anger, malice and unrest.
There is a place for anger in the Christian walk, specifically when anger is a catalyst to bring about justice for the victimized. Voters are angry–and rightly so–because our government has either ignored or aided in the collapse of traditional American ideals. I find myself angry also, but in Ephesians 4:26 the Lord renounces allowing anger to propel us toward sin.
So this year, instead of slapping a sticker on my van, and patiently awaiting November results, I’m staying engaged in the events of this election. I’m reading articles, listening to commentaries from both sides, and refreshing my memory on American history and civics. I’m also making an effort to pray for those in authority, knowing that God can change hearts and provide wisdom where it is lacking.
Simultaneously, I’m taking steps to guard my heart. I’m asking God to forgive me where I have fallen into sinful anger, and risked dragging others down with me. I’m learning to train my mind against emotional ploys and praying God will guide me to see things in a sensible light. I’m asking God to reveal the lies to me; to show me where arrogance is disguised as strength, where greed is disguised as prosperity, or where division is disguised as protection, not only in a candidate’s heart, but in my own.
Not far into this year’s presidential race, I was reminded of the Cherokee legend of the two wolves. If you haven’t heard it in a while it goes like this:
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. “There is a fight going on inside me,” said the grandfather. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil-–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good–he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
For the fight going on inside me, I choose to starve the first wolf. With God’s help, I will walk away from philosophies that increase human-on-human tension and strife. I will choose to feed the good wolf by filling my mind with truth about God’s promises to all His children, not just some. I will heed the lessons of those who have fought–and are fighting–the good fight.
With God’s help, we as a nation can move towards restoration and be a people of unity, faith and freedom. This year, I choose to do more than buy a sticker or wear a trendy t-shirt. This year, I choose to be a part of that restoration.