Written by Edith Guffey, Conference Minister
It’s always a bit strange to know that I am writing something a few days earlier than you will be reading it, but that looms large this Monday morning as the mid-term elections are tomorrow. And if you read this on Wednesday; they were yesterday! The future as I write, the past as you read. But really all any of us have is the present. And I can’t predict what that present reality will be like. I do know that I will be glad that my email will no longer be filled with dire predictions of what will happen if I don’t contribute immediately to one candidate or another and I will be very happy that the air waves will be free of the campaign ads that are filled with some pretty vile stuff. I’m pretty sure that no candidate is either the saint or sinner that their ads wish us to believe. If I believed even half of what’s shown in the ads, I couldn’t vote for anyone. So, yes as you read this on Wednesday, I will be glad that the midterm elections are over. And while I don’t want to downplay how important they are (or were), neither do I want to imply that their outcome will (or did) drastically or immediately change the reality of the lives of those we are called to serve.
The impact of the elections that I do know that will linger are the ugly and vile things that have been said over the past six weeks to demonize immigrants as scary criminals coming into our country to take our jobs, rape women, and destroy “our way of life”. Those images and words have been unleashed one again and hammered into the collective psyche of the country for political purposes. None of this is new, but the closer the midterms came, the louder and more intense the rhetoric became. I am baffled by the hate that is spewed out in the political arena in a country that denies the religious diversity and calls itself “Christian”, as I can’t figure out how we can be a country that loves Jesus and teaches hate. Messages of hate linger; and they linger not only in the minds and hearts and white Americans. I think they linger in the minds and hearts of people of color, of immigrants who live and work in this country and hear these words spoken about them and their families.
A few weeks ago, I saw the movie, The Hate You Give; and then on a trip to a meeting I saw the movie, The Forgiven that is about South Africa and the work of Desmond Tutu and the Truth and The Reconciliation Commission. Both movies are totally unrelated, from two different continents and contexts, but both are about hate deeply rooted, systemic hate and the societal and individual impact. And both tell the story of how early hate can take root, how it is nurtured and grows and destroys. And we are in an environment that is helping hate to grow. We have to do all we can to change that. I’m sure we do that inside our churches, but most of our lives are lived outside our churches. And honestly, that’s where our words that God is love really matters. The thing you will hear that non-churched people most hate about the church is hypocrisy. If our words inside the church are God is love, then outside the church, in the shopping center, at the dinner table, even when it’s unpopular we must live and act and speak and treat each other as children that God loves. Because what we say matters all the time, and how we live matters. And the impact doesn’t just go away because a date on the calendar is past.