By Todd E. Brady
Vice president for university ministries, Union University, Jackson
Some Americans participated in the election process not by affixing the “I voted” sticker on their sweater and then going home to watch the returns in their pajamas. Instead, they sought to protect their assets. In what was a sad display of the realization of our society’s lack of civility, anticipation of unpeaceful protests, violence in the streets, and potential looting in response to the presidential election caused many businesses to actually bar their doors and board up their windows.
Images of these boarded-up businesses were like those of people on the Gulf Coast anticipating a coming hurricane. It’s one thing for damage to be done by a storm of nature, but it’s an entirely different thing for damage to be done by the violence coming from our own hands.
Senseless violence simmers under the surface of our national psyche.
In Portland, Oregon, police departments canceled officers’ time off for Election Day. For the first time on election day, Denver activated its emergency operations center. Murphy Robinson, Denver’s public safety officer said there was “100 percent heightened awareness” as they anticipated violent behavior following the election.
The famous Macy’s New York Midtown store was boarded up, and San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower was covered in plywood. Other stores and restaurants were outfitted for what looked like a war zone. It all looked like scenes from a third world country.
Officials in Chicago encouraged business owners to secure their belongings and to even hire additional security for what might be “demonstrations and activity.”
As I write (Nov. 9), Joe Biden has been declared the winner, but the matter of potential post-election violence anticipated on Nov. 3 was indicative of a significant problem in society. We may point to things in our country that are indeed wrong, however when individuals respond to those wrongs with violence, something is indeed wrong in them. Violence is never called for. Violence cannot be justified. Micah 6:8 calls believers to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” It is trendy these days to quote Micah 6:8 and to talk about doing justice. However, engaging in violence in the streets is not doing justice.
We should work for the light rather than curse the darkness.
Part of being a responsible and productive citizen involves behaving civilly. Regardless of our thoughts, opinions or convictions or our agreement or disagreement with the results of a particular election, we are not to respond by behaving in ways that destroy the property of others.
If you live long enough, you can attest that many things in life do not go your way. It seems to me that life is mostly about what happens around me and how I respond to it. We are not responsible for everything that happens around us, but we are responsible for how we will respond to what happens around us.
Those I know — the people around me — the citizens in this area really do want what is best for our community and nation. They are good people who do good things and would never respond in such violent ways. Across our nation, may folks like these rise up, and may their deeds chart the direction for our nation’s future. B&R