After the election

Note: This is Cynthia Rigby’s portion of the Texas Faith Blog of on Nov. 6, 2012. Dr. Rigby is a professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where we earned our masters degrees. See the full blog here: Texas Faith Blog.
Shane and Pat

After the election

Cynthia Rigby by Cynthia Rigby

The Apostle Paul instructs us that one way we can be united is to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I don’t think he means dancing away the night with the “opposition” if their candidate wins out over ours, or sulking forlornly with the “opposition” if their candidate loses. But I do think Paul wants us to put ourselves in each others’ shoes. He wants us to acknowledge each others’ joys and distresses.

Applying this instruction beyond our immediate response to the election results, certainly we should be able to rejoice with one another when there are signs (for example) of economic recovery, or weep with one another when our educational system (for example) seems to be failing.

We are so partisan, these days, that we resist celebrating even the most obvious accomplishment of the leader we didn’t vote for. We also resist criticizing the most obvious foibles of the leader we did vote for. To “rejoice with those who rejoice” must include acknowledging the strengths, as well as the weaknesses, of a president we didn’t vote for. To “weep with those who weep” must include being honest about a president’s weaknesses, even if we did vote for him.

To the degree we can rejoice and weep with one another, we can be united. We can be united, as the people of the United States, despite our partisan differences. This is because to rejoice together, and to weep together, is to continue to care about one another, and about the future of this country. It is to remember that, even though we disagree on how to get from “point A” to “point B,” we agree on what we want as the end – freedom, and justice, for all.

Cynthia Rigby is the W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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