Forgiveness, faith and politics

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Last week, I did something I swore I would never do again - I voted. I talk a lot about not voting, and I don't feel like anyone actually listens, they just try to tell me why I am wrong. I don't feel like it is wrong to not want to participate in what feels like a great divide: us and them.

None of us understand how they could possibly vote for that person, not with the way they act, how they would govern. What it would mean for them. If my candidate wins, I think they would get used it, because things will be better now (at least for me). But if my candidate loses, then all I can think of is how hard I will try to make sure they lose next time, so that we can win (no matter what it means for them).

It is maddening to me, and whatever I do, I feel like I am forced into a place where I see some of my brothers and sisters as something other than my neighbor, and where I see their opinions as wrong, their choices as misguided. This does not seem like living in community to me, and it does not seem like democracy, either. It seems like an empty shell of a system that once invited us all to participate in how we would live in peace, and now just feels like one side will prevail at the expense of another. And particularly this year, it feels like whoever prevails in the election will not be someone who is wholeheartedly supported, even by some of those voting for them.

So why would I vote this year, of all years? I guess the only answer I can come to is that I realize I cannot stand outside of this system, even if I may want to. I am certainly not proud of voting, and will not be happy, no matter what the outcome. Because no matter what the outcome, there will still be sadness and outrage. And maybe that's why I did vote. I won't absolve myself, but instead I will ask for forgiveness, from all my neighbors who feel differently from me, from all those who are 'them' in my mind - the ones I think I have to fear for their opinions, their outlook on life.

Maybe this year I am convinced that this might actually be what community looks like - that if everyone really does get a seat at the table, that means I might be sitting right next to the person who scares me most. And that they, in turn, might be scared to sit next to me.

And we cannot do this unless we believe in a higher authority, unless we believe in the power of love that really can heal the differences we cannot overcome on our own. So I voted in order to say that I will take my seat, even though I don't want to. And I will believe in love, and I will ask my neighbor to forgive my sins, as I forgive theirs. And I will hope that something new, and better, will be born from this.