A Kinder, Gentler Nation

By Terri Sloan

I admit it. When Obama ran in 2008, I was against him. I was entrenched in the Evangelical Republican doctrine like a cookie cutter saint. I didn’t want Obama and his crazy liberal politics in the White House. I didn’t like Michelle in her sleeveless dresses. At reelection time, I went to the theater to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2016: Obama’s America and believed every word of its propaganda; hook, line and sinker. I had been properly programmed. I had been hearing it, from the pulpit, for years.

Over the last few years, I’ve been conflicted with the Evangelical Republican agenda. I eventually found Barack and Michelle Obama to be kind and gentle leaders… good natured and smart. While I still may not especially agree with the politics of the Democrats, I have learned to love our President. He’s a good man who has put up with a lot of narrow-mindedness, nonsense, and, yes, racism; and he’s taken it in stride.

What we now see flung at Hillary – the rhetoric, the hate, the often baseless accusations – is simply an intensified continuation of the Obama opposition. It’s a fire that has been burning for a very long time. And it is now burning out of control. And here’s another admission: It turns out that I don’t find Hillary to be a maniacal, criminal, corrupt she-devil.

Hillary Clinton is not our enemy, church.

I have had the unique perspective of being on both sides. And I haven’t liked it. I don’t like that we take sides. That politics divide families. The blatant promotion of one-sided politics has caused me to leave my church. The puffed up and public rhetoric of this election season has left our country in fragments. The people and leaders of other nations are watching us in dismay. How can we as a nation hold our place as world leaders with this level of divisiveness? How can anyone take us seriously?

I long for a kinder, gentler time.

In his book A Farewell to Mars, Pastor Brian Zahnd asserts that, throughout history, nations have had an unhealthy need for a common enemy; otherwise they are likely to divide against themselves. And we’ve seen this in our own brief history. Of course, the Civil War comes to mind as the most horribly and obviously divided we’ve ever been. On the other end of the spectrum, after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we were tremendously and obviously united – against a common enemy. I can’t remember in my lifetime ever witnessing such patriotism. But it wasn’t long before the next election season had us back at battle with each other. Is that how it has to be? We must have a common enemy or we will tear each other apart? I refuse to resign myself to this.

I am not so concerned with agendas, platforms, politics or politicians. I am concerned with families, neighbors, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the immigrant. Tomorrow when we go to the polls, we have been given the privilege to help decide whether our president will be concerned with those things as well. But whatever the outcome, let’s come back together. Let’s move into 2017 as a nation united; a nation which takes care of each other – regardless of the differences in our politics. Let’s remember that politics are ideas, but politicians are people. Let’s give our politicians grace and respect. We can disagree. We can vote. But in the end, what speaks most loudly about our nation and the kind of people we are is the level of grace and respect we give to each other and our leaders.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Jesus (Mark 3:25 NIV)

88 comments

  1. Your post is very thoughtful. We do tend to unite with a common enemy but maybe we can find a common cause to unite us. For example the moon shot was a uniting project. Some ideas we could look at today: Building up a solid infrastructure for transportation, encouraging Americans to get the education to fill the high tech jobs that we now rely on immigrants to fill…Things like this could unite and strengthen us without the negativity.

    1. I share your optimism and let’s hope our leaders have the same mindset. I thought healthcare was going to be this uniting force that brought the country together during our current administration, WRONG (Trump voice)
      Nobody wants to help accomplish someone else’s idea no matter how good it is. They want the credit for themselves, or they just don’t like you, which to them is more important than accomplishing anything. Sad. Hoping for a brighter, more collaborative future where we can get stuff done!

  2. How is the magic word. How can we make this happen? It is one thing to hope and look forward for something but we have to take some kind of action to make sure it happens. That’s the tricky part. With a population full of diversity with such different opinions and beliefs, something like this becomes very difficult. I don’t believe it is impossible but difficult for sure.

  3. I pray for our children, I do not want them to grow up in such turmoil, resentment, racism and hate. We can learn from our different experiences and those things that make us unique in our own right, we have the capability to come together as a nation and we have proven it time and time again when we have faced tough times. We have work together for the human race as a whole and put away personal agendas and vendettas to make a better country that we all will be proud to live in.

  4. Friends thank you for this, I would like to add and say that People have rights, ideas do not. Every idea must be criticised as to its benefit to the common good, but people need to be helped when they need it.
    America, the rest of the world looks at you and all your nukes and military might, we see the reality show of an election that you you have had, and we can only wonder, laugh, and cry at how the formerly wonderful American people have gone so wrong. We don’t need any more wars against anything. We need healthcare for all, free education, and food for the hungry of this world. Please stop dropping bombs and start dropping food and medical supplies instead. Restore the faith the rest of have in you the great nation of America.

    QP

    1. We’re still good people, but like all good people everywhere, we don’t always make good choices. Healthcare for all and free education are great things, but also very expensive things. How do we pay for all of that?

      1. Actually most other western nations have no problem paying for them. Some examples are that Canada has totally free healthcare and in Germany even foreign students can go to university for free. You have been told a lie that’s it’s expensive. This is only true in the USA where when the military buys a hammer it costs 50$ and the doctor charges 15$ for a tongue depressor. If the rest of us can do so can you. It’s all in the priorities.
        QP

  5. I just read your post. It reassures me that there is hope for the future of our country. That is not merely a reflection on the current election. I have to disagree with line one in your paragraph six but fully agree with line two. The two are interconnected and nearly inseparable to me. Regardless if I have to pick I would go with you. I appreciate the picture as well. One person I like, the other not much, but I love them both. Thanks for the good words.

  6. Ive been saying some of the same things…I’m personally not a fan of either side in this race, but I don’t care who my neighbor supports. I’m worried about the divisiveness of the last few years. I think media and social media fuels the fire daily in the wrong direction. We are all in this together. Regardless of who wins , Life goes on and we must let go of the animosity and hate for one another over a difference of opinion. Maybe after tomorrow we can all get back to just hating Nickelback . Lol. Be blessed and thanks for sharing

  7. That’s a fantastic post. I’m not American. I’m Swiss, living in Australia. But I love the Obamas and I wish they could stay. He is indeed a wonderful leader and Michelle most certainly is too. It’s a shame to see them go, especially under the circumstances. I believe that no matter what happens tomorrow this election will have an ugly aftermath… Wish us all luck…

  8. Let us hope that, as in the UK we have a Prime Minister and Queen of the gentler, fairer sex, that you may also achieve that, and together these women can guide us all to safety <3

  9. As a Brit that used to live in Washington, DC it is sad how divisive the Republican party have allowed politics to become just in pursuit of power. Their leaders encouraged racism against America’s President, which is totally outrageous.
    I wonder what Republican President Abraham Lincoln would say to that?

  10. Well said this election was the ugliest and most frightening I’ve ever seen. It is/was an embarrassment to the United States and a bad example set for the children of our future. Let’s hope we can learn to work together as a united states of America.

  11. A great insight. The execution of your thought would require a great amount of tolerance for each others beliefs and views. America is seeing the divide and anger which other countries in civil turmoil have been battling for years. America’s diversity has helped the country avoid this conflict for a long time. Hopefully, people will unite again to move forward with values the United States of America stands for.

  12. This is great! It’s nice to hear a more measured Christian perspective on politics. Most of my family and friends that are Christian see voting for Trump as a divine imperative, solely because of his stance on abortion and gay marriage, regardless of how bad of a president they expect him to be.

  13. Congrats on being “Discovered!”
    I don’t think our two party system reflects our country’s citizens anymore. Given one list, my guess is everyone would choose issues from both parties. Saying you’re republican or democrat is a commitment as strong as religious beliefs and yet the world and its problems have changed so much. There’s a lot of common ground.

    I spoke to someone recently who has been a staunch republican and voted for an independent in this election. Times are changing.

    Like you, I hope the hatred abates and everyone accepts our new president no matter how they voted. Great article!

  14. What a breath of fresh air. It felt good to read this and realize that others out there are less concerned with winning or beating someone else down and more concerned with fostering good will, compassion and understanding. And you, a Republican! I need to read more like this from people like you because I need to get rid of my preconceived notions about people on the other side of the fence. I need to learn to walk up to the fence, lean over, and greet my neighbors. Thank you!

  15. I agree with what this post is about. Though I do not live in the US, I understand how important this election is not only for internal peace but also to maintain healthier international relations. I hope the results are good.

  16. Really interesting stuff. I agree, politics has become too personal: and that’s on a global scale. I’d even say it’s become poisonous: politicians recognise that people are angry, and hijack that anger; it’s as true with Trump as it is with Brexit.

  17. I love how this is written. The division that comes from these things and many other things. We need to just be kind with good intentions daily and we could change everything in today for tomorrow!

  18. It’s so true, nothing unites people like a shared hatred of someone or something. We’re a society of complainers, that’ll probably never change. Especially when i complain about how we’re all complainers. It never stops!

  19. You voiced my experience completely! I grew up with the idea that “The Liberals” were evil, but higher education and a couple of classes in logic showed me otherwise. Thank you so much for expressing this idea so well!

  20. Hi, Terri.
    I really enjoyed your article. I find myself thinking and feeling the same way you do about politics. I often scratch my head and ask why does it have to be so full of opposition and hate? Yes, hate. I recently got into a disagreement with a good friend because she supported Donald Trump, and quite frankly, he scares the crap out of me, but I had to disengage in the discussion before it ruined a good, Christian, friendship.

    You stated you had to leave your church because of the political opposition. I do hope you’ve found another. If not, go back to your old church and do what the Lord exhorts us all to do. Pray. Pray for Donald Trump, pray for the United States, pray for your church leaders. In other words, pray, pray, pray. 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of your blog posts.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments… we haven’t found another church yet, but now that the election is over, we will give it a try. I very much appreciate your counsel. 🙂

  21. Thank you for this exceptionally thoughtful post.

    “Let’s remember that politics are ideas, but politicians are people.”

    I’ve felt that this election season has been less about ideology and more about ad hominum attack.

  22. As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character of old, Pogo, said, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” We are guilty of “group-think”, we blithly accept what others say because we are unable or unwilling to think for ourselves, or our need for inclusion – to be accepted – outweighs our want of individuality. We have been taught since childhood to value being a member of the “team”, to follow the “rules”, to accept and obey without question every “authority”. At times that’s a good thing, at times it will take us over the cliff to destruction. Religion and politics come to mind.

  23. This is a powerful article! I do feel that politicians should work harder at toning down campaign rhetoric so it’s not so divisive. It’s a lot harder getting people to unite afterwards

  24. Very true, Quantumreceptor, it is in the priorities, but let me say this. I live two hours from the Canadian border and our biggest hospital in the state is in the town I live in. I used to work there and I can say that more than half of our patients are Canadians who come down here to get healthcare in a more timely fashion than they can get it in their own country, especially when it comes to some major surgeries that they’ve been told at home they can’t have. Why? Because the procedure would cost too much money. So, they save and they come to the US and they get the surgery they need. They also tell us quite frequently NOT to go to socialized medicine. It isn’t worth it. In fact, my state has tried to go its own way with universal healthcare and it’s been nothing but a debacle. A very, very expensive debacle.

    Now, on the flip side and in the interest of full disclosure I will say that many of us Americans get our prescriptions from North of the Border because it’s simply cheaper.

    And please, don’t paint us all with the same broad brush. If you talked to any average American on the street, you would find that we don’t want to drop bombs either. We want to live our lives and raise our children to be decent, hardworking people, and we want to be able to pay our bills. The average American still believes in the core value of live and let live. I speak for myself when I say I think we often find ourselves caught between what we voice to our representatives and what lines their pockets the best. Hence, the bombs get dropped.

    1. Dear green mountain girl,

      Thank you for your great perspective I personally know many wonderful good hearted Americans and have had some very open and frank conversations with them. It seems that the common thread is taxes. Most other nations pay more in tax knowing that the money goes to the common good. And most of the good Americans I know would not pay one red cent more to Washington. Now no medical system is perfect not Canada’s not the I’m the U.K. or Germany but everyone needs healthcare and sometimes we have to wait a bit longer especially for new therapies that have not been approved but there is no excuse to not have any coverage whatsoever or to have to sell your home when you have a heart attack. Universal healthcare is a human right not a debacle and it’s not so expensive. There is simply no reason why the best minds of a nation start off in life with $200000 in debt for earning a degree. We need to support and bring our best minds and people forward to solve the worlds problems. Instead of letting the 0.1% get richer and richer.
      I know you don’t personally drop bombs on innocent people, and you never never would, but you benefit every day from the military industrial complex of your nation. A good read would be Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. America has started a war every ten years or so for the last 200 years. The world is ready for peace and it’s up to you and I to make it happen.
      It’s through dialog and honesty that we can come together as a planet and really live peacefully, but we need to ask the difficult questions first. I am sure if we could talk face to face we have a great chat.

      QP

  25. Hi Terri I have just literally joined the WordPress family (today, just over an hour and a half ago) and you’re the first blog I’ve read. Your words are very uplifting. As there is enough taring down going on in the political arena. Opinions may differ greatly and many voters are outraged and extremely disappointed.
    So this is the time that we really need to eat (God’s Word more) (you’ve already had the) vote AND PRAY fervently!
    My prayers are with your nation.

  26. I think we’re having a great chat now. Would love to talk face to face. I admit to being a bit jaded about my government and the corporations that actually run it. I believe personally, that universal health care and free – or at least much less expensive – education could and should be available to all. However, I also know that this country was founded on profit first, and if that means start a war every 10 years, so be it.

    I see my daughter going to law school and the debt load she’ll have when she gets out will be staggering. It will haunt her for the rest of her adult life. The problem with Obamacare and our own state’s Healthconnect is that they are designed so that the insurance companies can be sure to get their profit first so they’ve ratcheted up the cost so much the average American can’t afford to buy it and then the government has the nerve to fine us for every year we don’t have it. For almost everyone, it’s cheaper to take the fine. You’re also right though, we do dislike paying taxes. 🙂

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. Dear green mountain girl

      A war every 10 years to line the pockets of the already too rich is unconscionable.
      This is why the rest of the world hates America. And “so be it” is a lazy cop out when innocent people pay with their lives. I understand that you are religious and I can only ask here, what would Jesus do? More bombs eh?
      I am sorry your daughter will be paying her loans back for the rest of her life, maybe she can study a bit in Germany to lighten her load.

      On the topic of taxes, free schools and hospitals do cost money and you would have to pay more. Or maybe not, bombs must cost a lot as well there must be some savings here.

      Hope you all are having a great day.

      QP

  27. Brian Zahnd’s quote is very insightful and I began to think about my country and what happens during politics.

    Then I stopped and thought, why is it that we need an enemy to unite? What’s wrong with us if need hatred to have love?

    1. Brian Zahnd’s book has so much insight. Full of concepts I had never considered. I highly recommend it! Thank you for your feedback!

  28. This post is so important, especially the quote at the end. Even though many citizens may not agree with Trump supporters and Hillary supporters, hate and crime and killing is not going to get us ANYWHERE. I love this post!

  29. I really enjoyed this piece. I’m glad you’ve come over from the dark side. Haha. I’ve been driven to writing about Trump, as well. I just wrote about Obstruction of Justice. I just can’t believe so much is going on!

    Go to http://www.trumpdiaries.com if you want to see my side of things. I think we’re kinda on the same page!

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