For many, the world seemed to change on the night of November 8, 2016. For some, it seemed like the world was suddenly a more dangerous place, while for others, it appeared to be one full of future positive change.
In the past few weeks since the election I have experienced so many different emotions, witnessed a variety of reactions, and struggled to comprehend what the next four years will mean. As a result of Tuesday night, there have been tears, there have been celebrations, there have been shouts of frustration and anxiety and fear. There have been countless arguments via Facebook with friends and family members. In an election season so filled with invectives and hateful speech, it is sad to see this polarization continue for what seems to be the unforeseeable future. And while disheartening, it is also understandable. Right now, there is so much uncertainty and fear that hangs in the air it feels as if the winter air has dropped several more degrees (and I’m a native Floridian who has already been freezing since September).
Will I be deported? Will my marriage be invalidated? What rights will I have over my own body? Does my president hate me and my family? These are all concerns I have heard, and some that I share. And yet, I cannot comprehend all of the dimensions of these results. I cannot personally understand the persecution that some have felt from others this past election season. I cannot personally understand the fear that some have for their loved ones. I cannot personally understand the feelings of frustration with classicism and the current government system that have led to such results as these. But what I, and what we, as Christians or even simply as Americans, must strive to do is sympathize.
Already, I have been surprised and comforted by the level of support that this university has offered. Friends, teachers, clubs, and even Dean Khurana, along with so many other faculty members, have offered spaces to voice opinions, to feel safe, to feel that our emotions are validated. I am lucky to be in such an environment, and know that for many, this is not the case. Don’t forget to offer this level of support and love to those whose fears and anxieties you may not personally understand – it is so much more important than you might think. 1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” Don’t underestimate how your kindness today can help another.
I understand that sympathizing with others is not universally easy. It is far from easy. Towards people with divergent opinions, it is easy to get angry, to scream, to yell, to pretend they don’t exist, and even to hate them. It is difficult to disagree with someone on so many levels and still love them. And because of this, it is all the more important to do. Proverbs 10:12 says this, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers up all wrongs.” It is easy to turn on each other at such a polarizing time as this – to label people as evil and terrible and cruel and as the enemy. And even if you think these things, Luke 6:35 still says, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
I am not telling you to love the current political atmosphere. I am not telling you to love everything that is happening in our country now. I am not saying that you have to agree with the things that have passed and the things that may pass. We still must look out for the injustices in the world and fight against them. One of the pastors at Aletheia Church made one of the simplest and most poignant points I have ever heard. If God created man and woman in his own image, then we are all created in this divine, and perfect, way. God did not make certain people to be inherently better than others. To say that one person is lesser than another, or unequal to another, is to say that God made something imperfectly, that he made a mistake. And if you’d like to tell the Big Guy Upstairs that, then I wish you good luck. Be alert for when others are being treated unfairly and continue to pursue what is righteous and what is good. When you put others first, and love others, this becomes easy to spot and to do. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
Remember that, in God’s eyes, everyone is equal regardless of gender, political beliefs, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or race. Remember to turn away from the fear-mongering and the discrimination, but not from the people. Remember that there is still good in this world, in this country, in each and every person. Remember that, in an environment where hate seems to be so prevalent, the best defense we truly have is love.
And remember the words of 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Marinna Okawa ’20 is a freshman living in Thayer Hall.