Reconciliation: Post 2016 Election Triage

I am beside myself today. Last night, I only slept for four hours, tossing and turning with fear and anxiety throughout the night. When my alarm rang at 6:30 this morning, I did not want to get out of bed so early, but I knew that on this day, more than many other days in recent memory, I have to go to the chapel to pray. And so this morning I got up, showered, brushed my teeth, and put on mourning clothes. God come to our assistance, O Lord make haste to help us…

Here in our friary, the air is thick with grief and fear. Breakfast was heavy, silent, and glum.

Like so many others, I am saddened by the outcome of the elections. I am scared for all of those whose lives will be irrevocably harmed – those whose rights, health insurance, immigration status, workplace protections, religious freedoms (real religious freedoms) might be taken away. And I am deeply afraid for those who will face violence, intimidation, and assault because of the rhetoric that has been unleashed during this campaign and which, in a way, has been validated by our country.

I am angry and profoundly disappointed by those who stood on ideological grounds because at the end of the day, they were voting with their privilege. They will not be deported. They will not be fired from their jobs or denied employment because of their sexual orientation. They will have their health insurance because they are probably lucky enough to have a job that covers it. They will not be attacked on the street because of their religion. And they will not be shot by police because of the color of their skin.

But in reflecting on it more this morning, I understand why they felt the way they felt and I understand why they voted the way they did. And I am sorry. I am sorry that we ended up at this point. I apologize for any failures I may have done in not attending to you, for not acknowledging your legitimate concerns, your hurt, and your fears. I am sorry for judging you and for dismissing your sentiments as ignorance. I was wrong.

For the rest of us, let us take the next few days to be good to ourselves. Let us acknowledge our fears, our grief, and our anxieties but let’s not stay there. Let us take some time to renew, to reflect, and to pray for guidance because we have a long four years ahead that will require a new disposition and a new way of relating to our brothers and sisters.

First and foremost, we will need to bind up wounds that have been split and festered by this election.  We will need to engage in triage of our emotional and spiritual wounds.  We will need to attend to the very real fears and concerns of our brothers and sisters who are immigrants, people of color, non-Christian, women, LGBT, and any who are other. Let us assure them that we are with them; that their concerns and their fears, valid as they are, are not theirs alone. Let us affirm that our privileges (racial, economic, and political) do not blind us to their needs. Let us reiterate our commitment to working for justice and peace.

And for those brothers and sisters whom we disagreed with, let us enter into dialogue with them with humility, with openness, and with love. Let us assure them that we heard their cry, that we are listening, and that we will work with them to move forward because we are a people of hope and because they are our brothers and sisters also.

I pray that we will not throw the towel in on this experiment of democracy. We have a long road ahead of us and I hope that we, as a nation, can some how begin this long and difficult process of reconciliation.

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