The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
On Tuesday the campaigns of candidates for a myriad of elected offices culminate in the counting of ballots and the announcement of winners and losers. However, this culmination must not be the end of cultivating a movement for justice. Much like a graduation, this election is the commencement of many new beginnings for our country and a continuation of the work begun so long ago. Still, our collective voice through our votes must call for this revolution of justice to continue not only for the sake of our country and its people, especially the vulnerable ones, but also our planet and all its inhabitants and ecosystems of life.
While the election results will the story of the hopes and dreams this country has for its future and the policies necessary to realize them, these hopes and dreams will require more than our votes on election day. Our elected leaders cannot do this work on their own. We will all need to continue working together in a revolution for justice that seeks both policy change for the common good of all and a revival of the moral values that are at the heart of our democracy: equality, dignity, and liberty.
This is especially important given the hate, fear, and violence in both word and deed that has been drawn out from the far corners of society into the mainstream daily news by the Trump campaign as the result of Republican ideology and policy for more than a generation.
Since the horror week of the Republican National Convention, I’ve been contemplating the fallout not only of a Trump defeat but also of the implosion of the Republican party. Our democracy demands two functioning parties, but we must come together as one nation against the rampant sexism, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and bigotry that has been so apparent in this campaign cycle and that continues to plague the structures and systems of our society as well as our collective social conscience.
The surprising strength borne out in compassionate vulnerability for the sake of our neighbor will truly show the greatness of this country as we strive together for justice and peace.
For Christians, our common prayer becomes the agenda for striving for justice and peace in the world. We pray and then work on doing the things we pray for including: caring for the earth, advocating for those who are vulnerable and tending to those who sick. This Christ-like work is captured in the 16th century prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion
is to look out to the earth,
yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good
and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.
– St. Teresa of Avila
The principle of using our collective prayers and making them our agenda for faithful discipleship is easily applicable to our universal work and responsibility as citizens of this country.
Like the prayers of the faithful, the platform agenda and vision, becomes a guide not only for the policies that make for a more just society, but also for the moral values that shape our attitudes and behaviors towards our neighbors and the world we inhabit. How we treat our neighbor, allocate resources, and prioritize our work are as much moral decisions as they are policy, political, and economic ones.
Issues from climate change to comprehensive reforms in our criminal justice and immigration systems beg for our attention. So too does eradicating rape culture and all manner of discrimination in housing, lending, and pay. Those who are hungry long for food security and those who are homeless hope for a place to call home. This work will require a revolution for justice that extends far beyond Election Day and reaches both the heart of our public policy as well as the heart of each and every one of us.
The fragility of our planet and its vulnerable ones is matched by resilience and healing that comes from our collective efforts towards restoration as repairers of the breach. The hope of a better future carries, sustains, and enlivens this revolution for justice and revives our deepest moral values.
As the one likely to be our next president said, “It takes a village.”