The day before

Pax Christi tecum sit! Tomorrow, America votes. Whether you will be voting for Romney or Obama, please take a few minutes to consider Wednesday morning. Roughly half the country will be elated, and the other half, despairing. The result will be close, and whichever side you’re on, part of you will want to scream “how could so many people be so stupid”; for those on the losing side, lacking the balm of victory, that temptation will be felt all the more acutely. So tempers will be raw, and people will be not quite in their right minds.

And for that reason, it’s important to realize that the folks voting the other way are not faraway weirdos and strangers. They are your family members; your friends; your colleagues; people who go to your church; the person who served you at the drive-through this morning. Realize that your side doesn’t have a monopoly on intelligent people of good will who want the best for our country. Conversely, that idiot who cut you off in traffic? The guy running his mouth too loudly in the waiting room who didn’t know WHAT he was talking about? That idiot on that reality show? They voted for your candidate. Realize that their side doesn’t have a monopoly on brusque dimwits.

With these things in mind, let me suggest that it is in all of our interests, individually and collectively, to keep a lid on the rhetoric. If your side wins, try to resist the urge to gloat; if your side loses, try to resist the urge to lash out. As tempting as exultation and despair may be (that’s why Screwtape’s minions make such frequent use of them, cf. 1 Pet 5:8-9), may we not echo Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection … [and so, w]ith malice toward 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, … [and] to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Aude somniare.