During every presidential campaign, there is a moment to decide. We listen to plans and platforms, we read all we can, we assess the candidates’ character and experience, and then we make a very important decision.
But this presidential campaign is a bit like a street fight, where absolutely nothing is over the line, no attack is too nasty or too baseless. The political rancour is disconcerting. We much prefer harmony, unity and mutual respect. But in this political season, we are experiencing divisiveness and a lack of respect. Families are split along political lines. Relationships and friendships are strained. We are not the people we want to be. We want to be a people who revere our country, who pledge our allegiance, who get a catch in our throats when we stand before our “star-spangled banner.”
This post is not meant to criticize any specific candidate or ideology. Instead, it is a call to each of us, asking us to call forth our better selves as we choose which candidates we will support. As we have throughout our history, we have the power to decide the kind of people we will be. We can choose between division and harmony, mean-spiritedness and kindness. We can choose higher ground. Not only can we choose when exercising our vote, we can make a choice everyday to be a uniter, a maker of peace, an ambassador for justice. In spite of the discord of this political season, we can choose what is good over what is harmful.
The words of a great hymn are worth pondering during this critical moment in our nation. James Russell Lowell wrote the text of the hymn “Once To Every Man and Nation.” The words speak of defending truth in the face of falsehood. That the words were written in 1845 illustrates how history repeats itself. I include two of the stanzas of that powerful hymn.
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
Indeed, it can seem that evil is prospering and everything we once held as truth is dismissed. But as the poet said, “once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide.” And that choice does go by forever.
May God guide us in our decisions and lead us all to choose wisely.