As this is being written, we do not know the results of the U.S. Presidential election. It is not our place to speculate who might be the winner of the election. In fact, we may not truly know the winner of the election for some time.
Regardless, we know someone will win — either incumbent, President Donald J. Trump, or former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden.
Many people either voted early or waited until Election Day to cast their votes. Someone has won, and whether we agree with the outcome or not, it is part of our American democracy to accept that decision.
With this in mind, how can and should we proceed? Some will be seething if Biden is not elected president and might see it as the end of everything good if Mr. Trump wins reelection. Conversely, others may truly believe that a victory for Biden will usher in apocalyptic results for our nation and our world.
Both reactions are, to be honest, histrionic. America is a promise. President Lyndon B. Johnson stated in 1965:
“There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem. And we are met here tonight as Americans — not as Democrats or Republicans — we are met here as Americans to solve that problem.
“This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: ‘All men are created equal’ — ‘government by consent of the governed’ — ‘give me liberty or give me death.’
Well, those are not just clever words, or those are not just empty theories. In their name, Americans have fought and died for two centuries, and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty, risking their lives. Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man.”
We know that, as a nation, we can rise above these differences and see that our beautiful country, our home and native land, can and will indeed survive the divisions that exist as if a scar on our beautiful homeland. How can we achieve a level of reconciliation? Perhaps we need to turn to St. Thomas Aquinas. He teaches that true love comes not necessarily from emotion, but from decision. Therefore, to love, according to St. Thomas, is to affectively will the good of another person.
What does this mean? It means that we do not have to always like the other, but we must love the other! It means that we are called to see the image and likeness of Christ in each and every person whom we encounter.
The Catholic Christian has a unique role — he or she is called to be in the world, yet not of the world. He or she is called to a higher standard of living: being a good and gracious, productive citizen of this secular world, all the while having our hearts and minds set on the real world, the world to come, the world of Heaven.
Pray for peace in our nation. This country is so much greater than a single presidential election. Pray that everyone can be women and men of peace and healing — of reconciliation — and that we can remember that we are called to be good citizens of this realm with our hearts and minds set on the world to come.