Americans love their country. For a variety of reasons. They cherish its gift of freedom--of experience, of choice, or action, of individual liberty.
They know there's a lot wrong with this country they love. That there are people who will kill others whom they do not know, just because those people represent a background, or a power, or a station in life that they themselves don't have.
They may have come from somewhere else. They may simply be resentful for deeply personal reasons. Their targets are fellow citizens who work for the city government. Or they resent the first-grade children at an elementary school called Sandy Hook. Or they kill fellow students in a high school in Colorado, or the audience at a midnight show in a Colorado theater.
The killings are senseless, but they raise issues of safety and of fear of those who come from tormented countries, and are doing harm in our homeland.
Many other issues are being lifted up in the Presidential campaign of 2016. The back and forthing of the candidates has been accusatory, bitter, personal. The conversation has gone sometimes beyond decency.
The unspoken question among voters more and more, is for whom shall I vote? And, do I dare to discuss my feelings, my instincts, my hunches with my friends, my colleagues, my family even.
Why wouldn't I? Because many of them are shrugging their shoulders and taking what they think is a higher ground stance of, "I won't vote for either one..." or "I will vote for 'none of the above.'"
And we fear to reveal what our vote might be. We fear to talk through with friends the risks we may be willing to take in voting. We fear friends around us will dismiss us, view us as like the candidates--that we ourselves are crude, or brash, or racist, or irrational.
My sense as a Christian is that we are here to be truth-tellers. But also to be fair, forgiving, compassionate. To be willing to care about leaders who are not like us, to see through their outward aura of words, even of acts we consider immoral in the candidate's past, to take a chance on their present professed care for their country, and their desire to help, their readiness to offer a new kind of leadership.
They want their heart to be judged as good, and their highest instincts to be given a chance.
In my own life, I find as I age, and understand more and more of the human condition of all of us as sinners, that I am readier to see the good in even distasteful people, that I am ready to love them in spite of things they may have done or are doing of which I disapprove. That I am ready to be a friend to more less likely people than I used to be. That I am ready to make relationships with people who are not readily "my kind."
I would love to explore these discoveries of my own soul, my own tolerance, my own insight with my friends - as an equal. Indeed, as one courageous enough to risk my own reputation in order to stand with the person publicly judged--even vilified--and accept the consequence.
I do see God using very unlikely people to get His work done. I am trying to look at what might be going on in America, that these two candidates have risen to prominence, been nominated, and are running the race as best they know how to do.
Something is afoot. Revolutionary change is being contemplated. It is a credible position to take a chance on these changes. To end "political correctness" and ask for the heart to speak, and honest opinion to be voiced and noted.
It is time for honest, humble reconsideration and for brave conversation, and decision.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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