I don’t know.
Looking back on Tuesday’s election, this is the one thing that I am absolutely certain is true.
Leading up to Election Day, I was sure that Hillary Clinton would win. People way smarter than me were sure. Most Republicans were sure. But then the election happened.
And the day after, I knew I had to write something, but I didn’t know what. I can’t say why this happened. I can’t say what is going to happen. I can’t say that everything will be alright. Because I DON’T KNOW.
So I am going to take a page out of the Sorkin book of writing: Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright. And today I am going to steal from one of the best.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Second Inaugural Address
Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address a little more than a month before the Civil War ended, but not before the result was definite. Knowing that victory was essentially determined, he could have given this speech in triumph, but instead took this opportunity to reflect on time past and look forward to the hard process of Reconstruction.
And with the inauguration a little more than a month away, we find ourselves in a remarkably similar position as Lincoln: looking at our seemingly irreparable country with tired eyes and broken hearts.
This election cycle has been an unbearably long, demoralizing, and to many, even traumatic one.
In light of this, the reactions of so many are totally appropriate. Confusion and anger, fear and despair are all parts of the human experience that we ought to embrace when needed to cope with something like this. And we all ought to support one another in this time of grieving.
But that is not where Lincoln’s second inaugural ends. And neither is that where we should end. Where we ought to go is to embark on a process, not of reconstruction, but of reconciliation.
The last paragraph of Lincoln’s second inaugural begins with the words “With malice towards none, with charity for all…” And here it is crucial to know that Lincoln was a master of both the content and the voice of the King James Bible because, in the King James Bible, the word charity is actually a substitute for the word love.
So much of this election cycle has been about the mutual indifference and lack of empathy, on both sides, for the pain and suffering of the other.
On the political right, this embodied itself in tone deafness regarding the plights of minorities seeking to be heard. Black Americans on the value of their lives, Latino Americans on the right to be here, Asian Americans on being American, and women on being valued.
On the political left, this was evident in the dismissal of the true suffering brought about by poor economic conditions in areas that, in most cases, liberals don’t go to. Rural towns where families are broken up because children have to leave to find a job. Rust Belt cities where trade has taken away business, but the promises of globalization have yet to bear fruit.
It is our job now to engage with one another in love. To engage with one another despite our differences instead of because of them. Only then will the healing begin and the reconciliation take place.
So let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for those who hurt, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
And a special note to my fellow Christians, take heart and find hope in this. Abraham Lincoln found the ultimate comfort in the providence of God. He says, “The Almighty has His own purposes… and so as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'” Our King is righteous and merciful. Our hope must be found in Him.
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