The election of Donald Trump has exposed a raw nerve in American politics. Supporters cheer the furious pace of his first week as president. Opponents scream in the streets that we have become a fascist dictatorship overnight.
What is an Orthodox Christian to do?
There are good people on both sides of the issues that are rending this country. There are also those who would tear down America’s institutions. It all seems more than one person can handle.
But there are things we can do to affect change. We can change the world by changing ourselves.
I’ve put together a list of 4 things you can do right now to begin to change.
• Don’t play the political game.
I’m not advocating that Orthodox Christians stay out of politics. It’s a civic duty to engage in the world around us. But our duty to each other is being glossed over in favor of a ratings-driven media narrative of Us vs. Them. Red States vs. Blue States. Don’t buy into it.
There are issues worth fighting for. Orthodox Christians should stand for those who are unable to stand on their own. The innocent. The poor. The unborn.
What we cannot do is be drawn into the horserace that politics has become. The widow will not find comfort in your street protest. The orphan will not eat just because you consume all the right media. Don’t do something for your “team.” Do something that matters.
• Get off social media.
Facebook and Twitter are a wasteland of useless information. Fake news articles from disreputable sources abound. People throw Bible verses at each other like mud pies. Self-righteous anger shuts down any hope of rational conversation.
Just opt out. Don’t waste time trying to convince your enemies to abandon their positions. (You won’t succeed, anyway.) Stop filling your brain with information that only confirms your own biases. Use the weekly fast days to condition yourself to fast from social media.
You won’t be missing anything. I promise.
• Help someone.
It’s one thing to join a movement or wear a ribbon on your lapel. Marching and carrying signs is a sure way to get on TV and meet like-minded activists. Liking all the right causes on Facebook gives our ego a boost for very little cost.
Try looking into the face of the hungry. Spend time talking to someone with no family to care for them. Feed someone with no means of feeding themselves.
Political parties come and go. This week’s crisis will be gone next week, when the next crisis will be all over the news. Meanwhile, someone is dying of hunger in your community right this minute.
Get up, get out and get going. Look into someone’s face as you offer help. You will see the face of Christ. And they will see Christ in yours.
• Pray for your enemies.
Some of my close friends are politically very liberal. I tend to lean more conservative. In our younger days this led to some lively political debate.
For some this has calcified into an abject hatred of their political foes. This is not healthy. In fact it’s destructive, not only to civil society, but to our own hearts and souls.
Political discourse is vital. The arena of ideas are where the issues of the day are decided. It’s important to be informed and active in your community and in the world. But choosing sides as though this is a blood sport demeans us all. Those who disagree with us are not the enemy. They are fellow children of God.
Pray that God will have mercy on America, and all the world. Ask God’s mercy on those who oppose you. Pray God’s mercy on all our leaders.
Orthodox Christians can change America. The way to begin is by changing from within.
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