Its probably fair to say that most, if not all of us, feel profound anxiety when it comes to this election. No matter the outcome, we are going to have a mess on the other side. Now, with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fast-tracking of a new conservative justice, we face a world primed for conflict and division.
Some of the anxiety is understanding how we got here. How did we become so divided? How did our relationships become weaponized? How did we come to accept such lack of integrity in our leaders? How did we create worlds based on radically different sets of facts, and how do we reestablish a shared reality?
Three resources have been helpful to me lately, and I commend them to you:
Author and activist Brian McLaren has been a friend of mine for some years. I love his gentle spirit, sharp mind, and brave heart. When Trump was first elected, he saw more quickly than many of us the dangers before us. He and I shared many conversations over the past four years, brainstorming work to be done, mostly behind the scenes, to ready us for the days ahead.
Recently he published a blog post about the “Five Electorates” that I found exceptionally helpful. In it, he outlines the emergence of a new electorate that represents the deep disruption we see today. He notes, “You may think, as many people do, that there are only two kinds of voters in American politics, Republican and Democrat or Conservative and Liberal. You may even add a third category, Independents. Whatever your current understanding, I think you’ll benefit from this alternate way of seeing American politics in 2020: there have been four kinds of voters in recent elections, but now, a fifth voter element is emerging, and that changes everything.”
The second resource is a movie that I would ask all of us to watch if you have access to Netflix called “The Social Dilemma.” It does a brilliant job of outlining the complex challenge we now face with social media companies selling you and me (their real products) to advertizers. Their business model generates more profit when we are angry, divided, and divisive. We spend more time on their platforms in that state and, often unknowingly, click on more ads.
A final resource is “All In: the Fight for Democracy” which offers an accessible primer on the history of voter suppression in the United States. The film features Stacey Abrams in her failed bid for the Governor’s office in Georgia. It serves as a warning that what happened to her could be a sign of what is in store for our future.
I don’t offer these to make you even more anxious. Please forgive me if I’ve done that. I do offer them because we should not be nieve. We must face into our challenging days ahead, armed with a sophisticated understanding of the games being played and a posture of fierce compassion and love to lead us through the fray.
God is with us through all of it. We may have difficult days ahead, but we are not alone. Keep the faith. The way of compassion will lead us back to ourselves and finally back to each other.
We are in this together,