On Election Day I stood in line for an hour and a half to vote. I don’t think the good people of Upper Providence Township expected such a large crowd. There were only four voting machines and two people at the desk checking us all in.
The American system of democracy was in full force like I had never seen before. There was a sense of urgency and determination in the people in line with me. It felt like the day after a snowstorm when everyone is outside shoveling and talking to each other like they don’t do any other time.
As I left the polling place I received a little sticker that read, “I voted.” I wore it for several days because yes, I voted, but that is not the end of the story.
For many, the results of this election have been a source of celebration; for others, a cause for profound grief and fear. Many of the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church will be up for discussion in the near future, as issues around health care, immigration, gun control and climate justice come before us as a nation in the halls of Congress and in the U.S. Supreme Court.
That is why I say, “I voted” but also “I vote.” Election Day is over but we still get to vote every day of our lives by the stands we take, the letters we write, the money we donate, the evils we decry, the good we promote.
St. Therese of Lisieux, a 19th century French Carmelite nun, wrote in her journal, “When we yield to discouragement it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.”
There is nothing that can be done about the results of the election. It is in the past. There is also no telling what will happen in the future, no matter what was promised on the campaign trail. We only have today to live. And we can “vote” with our hands, feet and voices through daily acts of justice, mercy and peacemaking where we live right now.
We can decry the violence of mobs attacking people in the streets, the rise of racially motivated hate crimes and incidences of cyber-threats. We can teach peace and tolerance to our children and grandchildren. We can speak out for our Muslim neighbors and immigrant neighbors.
We can vote in these important ways every day of our lives. And thus, we can change the future through one act of justice or word of kindness at a time. Never underestimate the power of the one voice you have.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a modern-day Charles Wesley, who writes prolific and prophetic hymns for the church, wrote the following hymn (which can be sung to the tune of “For the Beauty of the Earth”). Rev. Gillette has given permission for this to be widely distributed:
By the streams of Babylon we sit weeping bitter tears.
Here so many hopes are gone; now we’re filled with countless fears.
Yet, O God, you tell us “Rise! See the world through faith-filled eyes!”
We will rise and seek your way, knowing love will one day win
We won’t let fear rule the day; we will welcome strangers in
Every day, we’ll seek and find countless ways to be more kind.
By your grace, we’ll rise above even in this troubled hour.
Where there’s hate we’ll chose to love; we will speak your truth to power.
With the poor and refugee we will build community.
We will pray for those who lead, even as we take a stand.
We will rise with those in need, seeking justice in the land.
We will learn and listen well from the truth that others tell.
We will rise and work for peace; we will treasure your good earth.
We will march that wars may cease; we’ll see every person’s worth.
God, now give us faith-filled eyes as we heed your call and rise.
Psalm 146:7-8 reminds us that God “executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets the prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind and lifts up those who are bowed down.”
So, “Rise! See the world through faith-filled eyes!” And vote for peace and justice every day with your life, never forgetting that God is the ruler yet!