When I replay election night in my head, I feel like I’m reliving a bad dream - either that or a poorly produced reality television show. I remember sitting in the Harnwell Rooftop lounge, anxiously watching with my peers, and being pretty confident that Hillary Clinton would win. In my mind, I knew that there was a small chance that Trump could prevail, but in my heart, I trusted that the American people would make the “right” choice. After all, there was no way people would vote for a man who has made racist, misogynist, and demeaning claims on most of the population. So even though more and more states swung red on election night, I still held onto the hope that Clinton would win.
Imagine my disappointment when I woke up Wednesday morning and discovered Trump was our now president-elect. I was expecting the disappointment. You see, that’s a natural reaction to not getting something you never had. What I was not expecting was the shock and the pain that came about five minutes later. I was shocked that this had happened. How could the American people vote for somebody who had been and may continue to be so cruel? How did I not see this coming? Why did I firmly believe that this outcome could not occur? Most of all, how could God allow this to happen?
My immediate thought was the book of Judges in which the Israelites would always enter this cycle of being unfaithful, suffering, deliverance, and then back to unfaithfulness. I thought, “is God punishing us for the unfaithfulness of our nation?” However, I soon realized that these ideas were stemming out of bitterness. It is easy to blame God when things are going wrong. It is easy to point our fingers at Him, and not look at the selfish nature of our own hearts.
We are so focused in our own worlds and problems that we do not see the issues that go beyond ourselves. We care more about where our future is going, and what our interests are that we don’t see how much this country is suffering. The US has become so divided that many today live in fear because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation, or religion. There are people hurting because their voices are not being heard by Washington. This country is in pain.
However, what does it mean for Christianity when 58% of Protestants voted for Trump? 81% of Evangelicals? How could a group that emphasizes selflessness and love vote for a man who has based his campaign on diffusing hate?
Many argue that the reason why people - including Christians - voted for Trump is not because of his demoralizing remarks, but because of his stances on the economy or abortion or gay rights. I understand. Voting for Trump does not mean that you hate African Americans, Muslims, the disabled, women. It simply says that you don’t care about them, or at least not as much as yourself and your own needs.
That is understandable, but that’s what really hurts. As Christians, we have a duty to love those around us, and not just a passive love in which we tell the African American brother sitting next to us, “yeah I love you, and I’m here for you,” but an active love in which we fight for those who cannot. We provide a voice for those who are unable to speak up. The beautiful thing about privilege is that we can use it to support others, not remain indifferent.
Jesus loves His people actively. He felt amazing love for those who were helpless, but did He simply walk by when He saw people suffering? No, He healed those who were sick, fed those who were hungry, and interceded for His disciples and the church. Jesus gave his life for the world in love.
Matthew 22:37-39 states to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Everything other than that is secondary.
The responses from my fellow Christian brothers and sisters have been disappointing and discouraging. Many don’t see the significance of this election. They simply state how “God will redeem” and how “they believe that He will carry us through the next four years.” Yes, God has a plan, but that should not prevent us from interceding on behalf of our country. It should not prevent us from caring about others who are hurting. Indifference prevents us from loving. The opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.
Christians cannot afford to be silent anymore. We have to stand up for others. We have to show what it means to love as Jesus did – interceding for our community, taking on the burdens of those who are struggling, empathizing with those hurting. Jesus showed us that even in a world full of hate and sorrow, His great love still reigns.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."1
1. John 3:16.
Hongyu (Wendy) Zhou is a junior studying Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an avid fan of sweet potatoes and ice cream, and a lover of sunny days and nice breezes. Philly winters are not cutting it out for her.