In three days, the United States will decide who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years. In my four and half decades I am not familiar with any presidential election as heated as this one. And I am not talking at all about the candidates. Rather, I am referring to the public at large. We hold onto our personal values very tightly. When we identify with a candidate closely aligned with them, we dig in our heels defending our choice.
Social Media propagates opinions. And many opinions are quite strong, so much so that I have observed some rather hostile smack-downs on-line. Even among some on of my own Facebook friends, I see banter get out of control in response to comments I’ve made merely expressing a view. I don’t recall such a degree of verbal hostilities in the past. (thanks Facebook…)
Strong opinions are nothing knew. Many past elections have fueled a highly divisive citizenry. Today, the divisiveness is both wide and deep. On Wednesday morning, November 7, a lot of people are going to be disappointed. Many might even seethe for days on end – or for four straight years. On the other side, a lot will also be relieved while many of those will gloat and carry on with an air of divine validation.
From Polar to Tribal
It has been close to one year since I was preparing for my first trip to the continent of Africa. I was traveling to Rwanda to help with the creation of a documentary on the 30th anniversary of Marian Apparitions that are widely believed to have foretold of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. That I was privileged to accompany genocide survivor, author and speaker, Immaculee Ilibagiza is something I will forever cherish. In preparation for this excursion, I absorbed as much as I could about the history of the genocide. (At the conclusion of this piece I provide the links to the posts I shared last year about this amazing experience.)
For those unfamiliar with the history, the Rwandan Genocide was, in a nutshell, a tribal war. Well, more of a one-sided slaughter than a war. My summing it up in two sentences is not meant to de-sensationalize the brutality and savagery that defined this terribly sad event in the world’s history. Rather, I want to point out that at it’s core, it was fueled by the ability of leaders of opposing views to motivate what can be described as mas-insanity. I realized shortly after this trip that when enough people rally around the flag of perceived injustice, terrible things can happen. That which separates the U.S. from regions where such volatility seems more prevalent might be thinner than we assume. What is there really that gives us any immunity to such an uprising? When breaking points are reached, breaks occur.
I don’t believe the U.S. is at that point yet. The thing to keep in mind is that in Rwanda, it was spontaneous. One week you were mingling and socializing with those either whom a week later you were slaughtering or by whom you were being slaughtered. One catalyst triggered it and once triggered, stopping it would be akin to stopping a bomb from exploding one nanosecond after detonation.
The reason I share this is that I want to express my wishes that whatever the outcome, we maintain grace. There has been enough verbal hostilities over the past several weeks. Let’s call this done and leave the post-election gloating and complaining to the professional extremists – the media personalities.
I look forward to being “friends” the same network after the election that I have now.
Thanks for reading. Have a Great Day!
For more on my trip to Rwanda, I invite you to check out: