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  • Writer's pictureRev. Christopher Tweel

If only we could be enemies


Emotions are running high right now. On all sides.

For those who voted for Hillary Clinton, the election results seem like a shock. Like something that could never have been has come to pass, or that a worldview thought long dead or dormant was actually alive and well in the hearts of people we did not suspect. We thought that the world was becoming unequivocally a new place that valued every race, that saw the pain of our brothers and sisters in the world, and that women and men of every color were becoming more equally valued. The great cry of lament comes as we realize that this is not the case. It's not a few radicals who disagree, it's a divided nation.

For those who supported the Rep. Nominee it seems like they should be happy, but it seems like they aren't. I have a guess that is because of two things. One, there is a group of intellectual conservatives that feel on some level that they have sold their souls to achieve a few Supreme Court justices that would adjudicate their particular morality. Second, that an angry, demagogue of a leader can only create a response of anger. The backlash against conservatives has been extreme. On some level as people beat up on Trump supporters they feel as if they deserve it, and that hurts.

The fallout from this election has been a vehement reaction that is shaking families, churches, and people we care about. Both sides seem to be angrily shouting, "How could you!"

But how did we get here?

Of all the places I have found enlightenment on this, perhaps the best and most unlikely place has been a "Cracked" article that came out shortly after the election that explained exactly how this election went down using my favorite explanation genre: movies,

The articles considered a few things, among them: that the heroes from a lot of our stories are down on their luck farmers from the countryside. The villain is the establishment, the City corporation, the empire with all their fancy dress. Brave heart, Star Wars, Hunger Games, all have this theme which boils down to "rural vs. urban."

We are in fact a nation of Red with Islands of densely populated Blue.

We have been this way for a long long time. The above map is from the election in 2012. This isn't a new thing. Our cities have been more and more liberal as time has gone on, and "good!" some might say, but imagine for just a second things from the other side.

Cities dictate our media, and generally tell us what the socially acceptable morays of our society are going to be. The surprise at the election almost proves it. The white liberal elite of America never thought those on the other side were going to be able to pull it off. And yet they did.

It hurts more deeply though, because this wasn't an election that only had 4 years of government at stake. Donald has been making a lot of statements. Things that were racist, homophobic, xenophobic, basically things that a lot of people thought would exclude you from being President. His wife has posed nude, she is his third wife, his business have failed, and surely the poor of our country wouldn't think that a billionaire would be their champion? But none of these things were enough to overcome the deep need that conservative America has to basically "throw a brick through the window" of the establishment.

For years the cities, and liberal folks have not done a good enough job of engaging with people across the aisle. We have seen it for the better parts of 2 decades as our country became more and more divided. Those who were surrounded by diverse communities and those minorities who saw slow progress have just accepted that this is the way forward, and damn anyone who can't get on board. Which, really isn't fair. Being "right" gives no one the right to steamroll anyone who doesn't agree with them. You know who does that? Nazis.

And I get it. White and people of every color who have stood in the gap of race and cried out "how long oh Lord" get tierd of waiting. I mean I get it, but as someone who is seen as white, I don't get it. The issue though is that if progress comes at the cost of half the country, then what makes one way better than another?

Cities were hit by the recession, but rural areas were hit hardest of all. So many of our rural places depend on a single industry to fuel their local economy. When that industry leaves it is devastating to every person in that area. "Yeah, but that is because of complex economic issues which Democrats and Republicans are responsible for." That is true. You know who has the time to research that? People in cities who can replace industry jobs with service jobs. People who are driving 2 hrs one way to find work to put food on the table don' t have that kind of awareness.

People by and large in the rural places of our country only want one thing. Jobs. They don't want healthcare, they don't want free college, they don't want government aide, they want a job so that they can do all of that for themselves. All of the rhetoric about doing something for the larger American community is lost on them, because their community, which often is filled with people of color, is what they can see day to day. People in the city benefiting from their tax dollars?! Insanity. The city people are what's wrong with this country.

It's one of the oldest stories in the world, dating back to Babrius of Greece.

The city people think they are great, but really the country is better. In later versions both mice come to see the benefit of both places, but in the US in the last part of this century there was a shift.

The city ruled supreme, and the country was where all the degenerate morons lived.

Cities are very often 20 years or so ahead of the country in terms of demographic expectations, cultural norms, and education standards. I was talking to a friend the other day, who works in the city and lives in the country, 50 minutes away, and I was floored to find out she didn't even have internet access at her house. There is no way an apartment in the city would sell without wifi.

Let me be clear -- everything is not going to be ok. A lot can change without our continued and focused action against what could be a new bigoted movement that values money and power over everything else. And I say that realizing that is a very liberal city thing to say. Only in the city do we have the luxury of valuing the environment over jobs. Because we have replaced , or can replace, manufacturing jobs with service industry. We know that jobs are ephemeral and can be found created, made from a grant, and that there will be a new way forward in the game of industry/infrastructure re-shuffling. Those who live in the country who depend on or have depended on a single industry support their town do not have that luxury. It becomes about survival. The philosophy is that they will do anything to get that job. If it ruins the environment, or creates undrinkable water -- so be it. Because industry has to be present for them to live.

Is racism an issue? Sure. Now more than ever. But it's possible that this surprise upset has the power to re-invigorate a lot of people who were lazily thinking that it was all downhill from here.

That's a real thing. Whether you believe Donald himself is racist, the cold fact is that deeply hateful people think they just won a victory.

It is up to every Christian person to prove them wrong. Not by impeaching the President, but by our daily and hourly actions against every form. If you were a supporter of the Republican part this election, the you have a double responsibility to make our country a safe place for people of color.

Every person has to be encouraging to one another. We have to speak out against intolerance at every corner, we have to actively speak out and act out against it. We have to seek out the voice of the marginalized. What kinds of authors are you reading? Where is your cultural influence? We aren't allowed any longer to just languish in our own isolation. That's what brought us here.

And yes, all of us, me too, have to confront our racism and not be fragile with ourselves. We all have our own prejudices but if we don't self examine them, we aren't going to be able to move past them.

Hating the other side is easy. It brings us division. It lets us sit in churches and friend groups that do nothing but nod their heads and agree with us. The worst kind of church is the church that celebrated the outcome of the election. Not because they are republicans, or rural, or whatever, but because they are a single body with a single mind. That's not reality. That an insulation that is comfortable. Ultimately that kind of insulation is destructive, and not what Paul had in mind in talking about the full Body of Christ.

We cannot, any of us, sit this one out. If you candidate was elected then you have twice the work now to do to insure that people feel safe. That they aren't being threatened at school, or in the local stores. We have to prove that this is not a victory for the KKK. We have to work across the lines of liberal and conservative, red and blue, rich and poor, city and rural.

We have got to find a way across these divides. For the Christian, going across the boundaries of human society has been something we have been commanded and charges with doing for centuries. Evangelicals I am looking at you. You're doubly charged with engaging the minority communities. Reformed bodies -- you don't get the presidency off. The time is now. It always has been

Never backward. Always forward. Always.

**Update on a new map talking about city vs rural from the NY Times.

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