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viewpoint

Post-campaign thoughts

| Thursday, November 10, 2016

I am writing this Nov. 8, 2016, six and one-half hours before the first polls close. I have no idea who won the election for president of the United States.  My comments are not related to the outcome but, rather, to the process. It was quite revelatory.

We learned a lot about our country in the year-long campaigns: We have a diverse body of citizens; people hold fast to their positions, even in light of contrary facts; there is a lot of fear; for some, the campaigns are primarily for amusement; we see how we hate one another.

With certainty, one can say that civil discourse is becoming obsolete in America, and ad hominem arguments are becoming the norm. And that is what I am thinking about: Is there a bright side to all of the ugliness exposed, especially on social networks, during this election cycle?  I say there is.

You have probably heard some form of the statement, “We are as sick as we are secret.”  So the good news is that the secret is secret no longer: We are a dysfunctional society. We will use or twist anything that can feed our own narrative and call it the truth.  We will mock those who are different from us or who think differently than we do. Racism, ethnocentricity, fear and misogyny are operative. Basic logic and reason are abandoned and replaced by imbecility. If we want to heal, we need our leaders to address these issues rather than play partisan keep away.

My prayer is that the next president of the United States will lead an effort to identify and address our “better angels.” It is in the purview of a leader to provide moral challenges and encourage change in the national psyche. Now that we have revealed our inadequacies we must design and implement ways to lessen ideological competition and increase lived cooperation. That is the only way, in my opinion, that we will survive as a nation and as a people.

Fr. Stephen Newton

member of the Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry team

Nov. 8

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