Alie Benge · Culture · Politics · Social Justice

How then shall we live?

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I’m writing this at 10 pm in New Zealand. I’ve just spent hours sitting in front of a live feed, watching a fascist Cheezel rise to power over someone infinitely more qualified. From my window, I could see a very timely storm rolling its sleeves up. I even learned how to turn the TV on. I’ve voted in every election since turning 18, but this foreign one got more of my anxiety than elections in my own countries. Though, to be fair, Australia got more head shakes. I wasn’t going to comment publicly on the election because I live in a different country and it just seemed like a waste of breath and rage. I also figured the first response would be, “you’re not even American”. But nevertheless, here I am.

I believe there’s a reason that non-Americans have the right to comment on a foreign election. For starters, this will undoubtedly affect us. Our stock market is already crashing, and I believe the social impact will be similar to America’s, if on a much lesser scale. But the main reason is this: This past year, I’ve become more and more aware of how shared humanity should transcend borders. I’ve been noticing how these imaginary lines in the sand seem to define the limits of our compassion. Not just political borders, but the borders between race, creed, genders, sexualities, and ideologies. I am afraid for the many people in America who will suffer great injustices under this presidency, as I would also have been afraid for the different set of people who would have suffered injustice under Clinton.

We’re all bones and water, greater than the sum of our parts; greater than the obscure divisions that cause us to deny each other basic empathy and respect. The tribalism of politics sets people in opposition to each other, and so hatred follows, and injustice for the losing side. There’s nothing to be done now about the result of the election. But there is much to be done within ourselves. We can reset our minds and void the ideas and the stereotypes we’ve been fed during this long, baffling campaign.

I understand that abortion laws are a deal breaker for many voters. I also understand that there are non-racist, non-misogynist reasons for voting for Trump. But if that was the decision you made, then I believe you have certain responsibilities now. You need to protect those who will suffer under his presidency. Pursue justice for those facing a loss of religious freedoms, for the many people whose sexual abusers have been vindicated by locker room talk, people facing continued police violence, and for the many other people groups who have been threatened during Trump’s campaign.

If you voted for justice for the unborn, then surely now is time to fight for justice for the born. Surely we can agree that everyone deserves life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – even if you don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle or their choices. We are each only responsible for our own actions.

So, this post isn’t just about the US. It’s also about Syrians, and invisible children, and women working in sweatshops, and poverty in New Zealand, and refugees in Nauru. Why should our compassion for another human being end because there’s a stretch of water between the places we were born?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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