January 20, 2009

With Malice Towards None

"With malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." - President Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics." - President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009

I'm not usually in the minority. I'm white. I'm a woman. I'm married. I'm a Christian in America. During the election campaign of 2008, I felt like a minority. Among weekly churchgoers, the majority supported the other candidate. I did not.

As a result, there were incidents. I avoid incidents. I don't like to be in the center of conflict. Who does? But I really supported the other guy, so I wore a button and put a bumper sticker on my car. So people knew.

The day after the election, I was with someone who was really disappointed, and said so in a way that made all the blood run to my face -- unfortunately by-passing my brain, fortunately missing my mouth. I protested in silence, by the grace of God; no words to later regret. But I was mad and hurt, and everybody knew. There were witnesses.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of misunderstanding at work. She didn't mean... I didn't mean... Days intervened before we were together again. I was afraid; she was too, I later learned. I did what God needed me to do -- I showed up. She did what I (and maybe God) needed her to do -- she said, "Wanna talk?"

So we did. First we hugged. Then we prayed. Then we talked. We agreed to disagree and agreed to agree -- because we had a lot more to agree than disagree about. And all the witnesses got to witness again.

This is exactly what it looks like to live in the Kingdom of God, I thought and said. And it is. "With malice towards none; with charity for all," we had "chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

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