The Great Experiment – When It Feels Too Soon to Acknowledge Our Hope

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fatehagoodErnie Johnson is a sports anchor and television personality on the show NBA on TNT. He was profoundly affected by the past presidential election and voiced his opinion on politics and religion as it pertains to the president elect, Hilary Clinton, voting one’s conscience, and approaching this with a Christian worldview.

I listened to Ernie Johnson’s profound and encouraging take with mixed emotions. It was life affirming and proposed a healthy, Christ-centered, road forward. But it was too soon for me to hear . . . although I agreed with almost everything he said. My emotions still hadn’t reached a proper equilibrium.

I have never, ever, felt embarrassed that a person was president. Never. Until now. I’ve disagreed with every president on something… crap… on many things. I’ve even disliked some! But NEVER felt embarrassed. I disagreed with President Obama on many things. And I disagreed with George W. Often. But I’ve never felt embarrassed that either was my president. So, though I agree with Ernie, my emotional response is to feel a huge disappointment in our country.

I grew up loving the ethos of patriotism and the myth of America. Somewhere, deep in my core, is an abiding sense of pride for being African American… not black only . . . but African American. Many people will interpret that as being fearful that, as an African American male, I won’t be able to prosper under this next administration. That’s not the case at all. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and have experienced racism and prejudice first hand. From being called “nigger” by what looked like someone’s elderly grandma from a passing car to being physically assaulted and battered by 5 white men “because you’re black!” to being handcuffed for DWB. Racism isn’t some boogieman waiting to jump out because of a new president for me. It’s my daily existence.

The hope that our country represents is important to me… Today I’m feeling that my only hope is in The Lord. Now, I’m aware that many hyper-spiritual and churchy rhetoricians will be quick to point out that, The Lord being our only hope, has always been the case. I am fully aware of that. But for me, America is still an ideal that represents hope. Alexis de Tocqueville’s book “Democracy in America,” written in the 1830’s, calls our system of governance “the great American experiment.” Alexander Hamilton also called a government formed “by the people, for the people” a grand experiment. There’s this sense that if we could just get out of one another’s way, this “experiment” might be proven viable. That, indeed, there can be liberty and justice for all. This brings hope. That in some way, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., even the children of former slaves and former slave owners, can transcend the character flaws of our nation’s founders and embrace the core message of equality and freedom, gives hope.

I felt, maybe naively, that we were moving towards a new paradigm for the American franchise. Tony Stark in the 2008 Cinematic production of Iron Man said, “I had my eyes opened. I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries.” I hoped that maybe, just maybe, we were at the place where we’d attempt to change the franchise reputation from “just making things that blow up,” to something more hopeful.

I have seen none of that “hope” in the rhetoric of the president elect, and it disheartens me. I have heard, if not blatantly racist, then racist adjacent, or at least racist “wink-wink,” comments, from the human figurehead of our country, and it embarrasses me. I have witnessed white supremacist domestic terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan have a victory rally and openly celebrate the election of their candidate, and it demoralizes me. I have seen many Christian evangelical brethren, who happen to be white, overwhelmingly support, to the tune of 81%, a person who is adored by almost every racist organization in America. Granted, that doesn’t mean they’re racist, but it does demonstrate their priorities when it comes to policy and ethics.

Yet, I am still encouraged by the words of the prophet Isaiah. He proclaimed in his introductory statement to a glimpse into the throne room of Yahweh, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). This gives me hope that regardless of who sits upon earthly thrones, the throne in Heaven is not vacant. That whether our president elect is Hitler part deux or truly “makes America great again,” that my “citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So I cling to the same God Of Hope who’s kept me through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. So don’t worry Ernie, I’ll get there. It’s just too soon.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

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