That’s what I felt watching the debate last night. Some of the things that were said made me so angry and sad about the state of the world, our nation, and the political process.
By the looks of Twitter and Facebook, I wasn’t the only one. My newsfeeds are filled with various hot takes about the candidates and what they said or did. Nearly all of these rants offered a solution.
And that’s all well and good, I guess. Kind of a weak response though.
Is that really the best solution we can offer? Is that really the best thing you can do? Travel down to your closest polling station on November 8th and check the right box and hope enough other people did the same?
I mean, whichever box you tick in November (if you tick one at all) might have a tiny influence on the decision of the next President of the United States, but it won’t fix what you’re upset about. It won’t do anything to fix the problems that made you so angry.
But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. You have other options. Better options. More effective options.
If you watched Donald Trump appear completely unapologetic about his own racial discrimination and it made you angry, go out into your neighborhood and work to end racial discrimination in your own community. Enter into the lives of your neighbors and work to befriend and understand them. Teach your children to respect and appreciate the cultures of other people. You can do more to end racism in your own community by befriending and listening to people of other races and cultures than you can by voting for the right candidate on election day.
If it infuriates you that Hillary Clinton wants to use your tax dollars to increase foreign aid, then take some of your personal dollars and donate them to organizations in your community who are trying to help people near you. Don’t have excess dollars? Volunteer. Volunteering on a Saturday morning will do more good for your community than a checkmark in the right box on November 8th will.
If the shouting match between two grown adults made you pine for the days of respectful discourse in our country, then go inject some love and respect into the community around you. Tip a waitress generously even when she screws up your order or forgets to refill your drink. Find some protestors you disagree with and bring them bottled water and snacks. Tell your conspiracy-theorist relative that you love them. Engaging people near you with love and respect will do more to elevate the level of dialogue in this country than your vote ever will.
This is particularly true for those of us who identify as Christians. You will not usher in the Kingdom of Heaven by voting for it on Election Day. You will show people the Kingdom of Heaven by getting off of Facebook, going into your community, and giving of yourself to encourage people and make their lives better.
Jesus taught us what it meant to care for the poor by spending time with the poor, treating them with dignity and respect, and even becoming poor himself. Why is it that so many Christians let their activism end with an angry Facebook post and a checked ballot?
Do you want to make a difference in this season of political turmoil? Don’t be satisfied with a rant and a vote. Bake cookies for your neighbors. Invite people over to your house for dinner. Visit people in prison just to talk and remind them that they’re loved. Volunteer in your community. Visit nursing homes to play games with the residents. Sit down with people you can’t stand and find some common ground. Learn to be broken and poured out for others the way Christ was for you.
Jesus never had the opportunity to vote, but he changed the world by adopting the position of servant. Maybe it’s time American Christians picked up that mantle.