We’ve seen an alarming rise in anger and hate in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election. And, our children are feeling it.
Hate has paraded through the public arena: Some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and causes were viewed as hateful, while some of Hillary Clinton’s positions and past scandals were sources of electorate anger. ADD: Bottomline, before, during and after the election, both sides have been caught behaving badly.
Hate has silently stalked in private spaces: Family members refusing to speak to one another. Facebook friends unfriending each other. Spouses unable to speak to one another about their opposing candidates. I had one friend suggest she wasn’t sure “what” she would do if she found out I voted for Trump. This election threatened families and friendships alike.
I can’t believe I’m recommending this, but, perhaps, we should all consider Lady Gaga’s recent advice. Gaga exhorted Hillary supporters at an election eve rally: “…we do not need to hate his followers. If we are true, true Americans, then we must go from viewing his followers as our adversaries to viewing them as our allies.” She’s right to remind us that we’re all Americans — one nation under God. But, beyond Lady Gaga’s admonition, I would send out a clarion call to Christians and Christian parents: We should be setting the example for how we treat those who hate us, threaten us or persecute us.
3 Post-Election Peace Tips for Parents:
1)Hurt people hurt people: This old adage rings true. When a person hurts you, the pain they inflict might be traced back to pain inflicted upon them. I often repeat this phrase to my own kids when someone upsets them. Together, we picture their offender’s situation and can often deduce what caused them to lash out from a place of pain. This process makes it much easier for my kids to forgive. In fact, this kind of forgiveness was offered by Christ in his final hours: “Then Jesus said: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'” [Luke 23:34] I think many people don’t recognize the hurt they inflict or what causes it. Translate this process into the election. Whether we felt hate toward Hillary or Trump, whether we felt anger over their pasts or positions, whether we felt hurt by the people who supported them, we will only heal as we seek to move past the hate, anger and hurt feelings. Moving past those feelings to forgiveness could save families, friendships and our nation. [I understand some political positions seem un-forgiveable; however we’re called to forgive people not positions. Further, I’m not suggesting we let go of our political convictions, but, rather, we must let go of hate inspired by opposing convictions.]
2)Expect persecution and bless people anyway: I believe it was John Lydgate who said: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” I am one of those people who’d like all people to like me all of the time. Not gonna happen. I think most kids want everyone to like them too, but that’s not gonna happen either. I think we need to help our kids accept this imbalance. We can promise them God will always love them. We can assure them our parental love will never die. But, we should warn them that some people won’t like them, no matter how fabulous they are. And, we must even teach them to love in the face of hate. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Or, you can go one audacious step further and “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” [Romans 12:14] It will NOT come easily, but we must teach these concepts to our children. They will shine for God the more they stand out from the rest of the world, choosing love over hate and blessing over cursing, amidst this post-election turmoil.
3)Humility matters: Humility is not a popular trait. It’s not encouraged in our public arena. It’s not associated with our celebrities. It’s not embraced in the political arena or the corporate power structure. But, humility matters. And, deep down, people know it. Why do you think so many point to the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet? They understand the humility that Christ shows here sets the example. Humility displayed for the sake of dirty feet reveals a love unrivaled. So, teach your children Philippians 2:3-4: “…don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
One final scripture points to a wise reaction to Election 2016:
“It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet, you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.” 1 Peter 2:15-16
Which of these scriptures can you use in your family to bring post-election peace?
By Jenny Dean Schmidt
Wife of Mike
Mother of two teenagers, Otis and Georgia
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Executive Director, ChannelMom Media & Outreach and Host of ChannelMom Radio on 94.7 KRKS FM in Denver and podcast and YouTube channel. Also at channelmom.com.