I began praying during the Obama years for the Republican party to be impeached (which I know isn’t possible constitutionally) because they appeared to me to be so blatantly racist in their opposition to everything Obama said and did, committed not to governing collaboratively but instead to persistent obstruction and vilification. “How do we impeach a Congress?” I asked no one in particular. But now it seems to me that the Republicans have been impeaching themselves through these last three years of candidacy and presidency. It looks like a greater good is being done through all the chaos: we may be experiencing a genuine purging of our national life.
Purging is good. It’s deeply unpleasant, sometimes painful, even dangerous, but sometimes it’s necessary, if the health of the body is to be restored. We have needed a purging in our national life for many decades: purging of racism, of misogyny, and of the lust for power and the irresponsible and greedy uses to which is has been put. A purging especially of the sinful heritage of slavery that still burdens us. Our un-repented racism has left a deep stain on the goodness of our nation and of our aspirations. It has weakened us in ways we’ve refused to see.
We seem to be waking up now. There are good and courageous people speaking out and doing all they can to speak truth to power and to expose the lies that keep the sickness raging. The important question is, what will we do about it? How will this story end? Are we living in an unfolding comedy or tragedy?
Though many are beginning to see and to speak aloud about the diseases that have weakened and ravaged us, this is still a crisis in the truest sense, for it could go either way. Those who choose to be willfully blind are still powerful and resist strongly. Those who love their privilege and power too much feel threatened and fight back hard against the voices seeking and speaking truth. Which voices will prevail? Will we be cleansed, or will the diseases only go into remission to emerge again in great force later? Will they go into remission at all?
I’m praying that this crisis will turn out to be a healthy cleansing, opening the way for a genuine renewal of our national life. Now is the time. Too much is at stake for us to let this time pass without doing everything we can to create a healthier body politic. I don’t mean to sound “preachy” (I can’t seem to help myself), but as a nation we would do well to find a way to engage in the ancient remedies provided us by the major religions: a process of confession, remorse, repentance (i.e., embodying a radical change of heart), and a fully realized commitment to new behaviors that will shape the future. Sadly, I don’t see that happening under our present leadership. But leadership can be changed. In the next election we have an opportunity to prove that we can be better than this.
Scripture says it is the gentle, the wise, the loving who will inherit the earth, not the bully and not the liar. That’s what I’m hoping for. May it be soon, please, Lord. And may we not fail the opportunity that is open to us in these dangerous times.