There are thoughts swirling in my head like fire ants when their mound is stomped on. I can hardly keep the anxiety at bay for long enough to write. I pray that I can produce something that might be helpful for my readers during an especially chaotic and trying time for everyone.
My oldest son was put in quarantine. He is now failing multiple classes because remote school doesn’t work well for him and we are having technical problems. I am calling and emailing teachers and administrators and that is not in my comfort zone. My youngest son and I are unable to attend or teach preschool while he is in quarantine, so that makes it even harder. With the case count rising so dramatically, we may not end up going back to school until next year. Several of my friends and family are either battling with illness or grieving for those who are. I have two good friends from high school whose fathers have passed away. My prayer list is very long.
Good news is, there are many things to be grateful for. In spite of being exposed to the virus, my son is healthy and has no symptoms of infection. The weather is beautiful, my candidate won the presidential election, the research and treatments for the virus are improving, and a vaccine is coming soon. There is food in my cupboards and a roof over my head. I can still speak out and advocate for peace. I am listening to audiobooks and podcasts and feel my mind growing and expanding like never before.
Even so, I have deep concerns about the extremism that has taken root in the Republican Party. The right wing authoritarian wing of the party has taken control. They are more dangerous than ever. The President and many of his supporters in the party, even within the Senate, have publicly made allegations of fraud in the election in multiple states. I have never seen such outlandish claims given such high profile credibility. Even though their party made gains in down ballot races, many Republicans are adamant that the presidential votes were tampered with. These claims about the validity of our elections have influenced public opinion greatly within the party. Seventy percent of the party members believe that the election had widespread voter fraud. Many millions do not believe Joe Biden won the election, even though experts say the result is clear and most foreign governments have called to congratulate the President-elect. The Secretary of State Mike Pomeo has even stated on global TV that they are preparing for a second Trump administration.
This division over the election results will further fuel extremism and polarization. The destabilization caused by the ongoing pandemic will only make it worse. Unless we are able to come together on the principles of our founding, the American experiment will fail. The threat from Donald Trump will continue as the Democrats are tempted to abuse their new power, Donald Trump likely announces his candidacy for a 2024 presidential race, and the cable news networks continue to profit on division. Donald Trump will claim political persecution as he has in the past. He will hold the Republican Party hostage with his loyal following that makes up a sizable percentage of the party. Worn down from years of scandal and compromise, the Republicans will not fight back. They know that they would lose any power they have left if Trump ran as an independent and split the ticket. Our only hope lies in a Democratic Party battling with its own authoritarian factions and led by the oldest President America has ever elected.
I have prayed to know what the Lord would have me do. I have been led to many helpful resources. One is an audiobook that has helped give me strategies to help de-escalate political discussions and bring down the temperature when arguments get heated. It is called, How to Have Impossible Conversations by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay. I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced relationship strain with the cultural convulsions of current events. We must reach out to all those at risk of being radicalized so that they know they have a choice.
To my friends who are confused and afraid, I say, you aren’t alone. Like Gandalf said in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo despaired.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
We have the knowledge and skills that we have. We have the courage and faith that we have. We must hope that it is enough for what the current circumstances require. I have sufficient faith to believe that God’s grace will be adequate for us. It will be difficult and we will be asked to give more than we think we can. Those of us who strive for peace and refuse to submit to lies and tyranny will not be overcome. The persecutions we endure will only make our victory that much more meaningful. We are on the right side. Compassion and truth will win the day.