With the election here, many us of are probably feeling tired and frustrated by the negative ads on T.V., the constant political posts on Facebook, and the general division in our country that is created by such polarizing politics. I know I myself am feeling anxious about what the future of the country holds. Will the candidate I voted for win, will what I believe to be the “right” propositions and initiatives be passed? For the past few months, I have spent a lot of time encouraging people to vote, making sure people are registered and that college students in particular understand how important it is to live out their faith and beliefs through engaging with civic engagement and our democratic process. When asked what being a faithful citizen meant, the answer seemed easy and straightforward.
For me personally, engaging with the political process and voting in the election is an important way for me to live out my commitment to social justice. Being a faithful citizen meant that through my vote and the ideas, policies, and people I support, I can live out the call of the Gospel, which calls us to live and love as Jesus did. I believe that a central part of being a follower of Jesus and living out God’s word is to care for the least of our brothers and sisters. We are asked to give food to the hungry, to visit the sick and imprisoned and clothe the naked. For me, my vote is a way I can continue my commitment to stand with the poor and work towards justice for the marginalized and vulnerable in the way Jesus did. Being a faithful citizen means understanding the issues and how my faith intersects with them, as well as encouraging others to take seriously their civic duty to vote as well. But as I cast my ballot, I needed to remind myself that my commitment to being a faithful citizen does not end on Election Day next week.
Regardless of who wins, what passes, what changes our country faces, as citizens of this country and people of faith, we are called to be faithful citizens beyond November 6th. The issues and topics of controversy so many of us are so deeply committed to and care about in this election are not going to disappear simply because of who is in the White House or what new laws make it into the books. The divides in our country, over politics, economics, religious freedom and civil rights, will remain, regardless of who is elected. Change will not come over night. This has challenged me to reconsider if I am truly prepared to call myself a faithful citizen. Am I willing to continue to be as passionately engaged and committed to the issues when they are not the hot topic of conversation and when my support requires me to do more than simply fill in a bubble on a ballot? Am I willing to reach across the table to both those on the winning and losing side and begin to heal the divides in our country so that we may continue to help those most in need? How can I continue to be engaged, informed and committed to helping our country, even if I don’t agree with who is living in the White House?
These are the questions I am challenged by as I drop my ballot in the mail; but I also find hope in these challenges. After all, as much as we would like to believe God is rooting on the side of our candidate, God does not support one political party or candidate. This gives me hope that in remembering the image and likeness of God we are each created in, we can work across the aisle and recommit ourselves to our call as citizens and people of faith. We have a unique privilege and power in this country to have a voice and to continue to work for change regardless of our race, gender, or socioeconomic status. We don’t have to be politicians or the President to have an impact on our nation. I have hope that come November 7th, we can be inspired not only by our voice in the democratic process but by the call of our faith to continue to use that voice. I hope that we can be moved and motivated to use the voice we are fortunate enough to have in this country to work with one another and bring about the justice and love our God seeks to restore in our country and our world.