A few thoughts as our neighbor to the south prepares to hand over the presidency to what is surely a clever and also troubled man. I assure you, these are not political thoughts but just a few observations on some all-too-typical human situations. The president who is leaving after two terms was, and is, an imperfect human, as we all are, but he spoke of hope and grace, including a divine hope and grace, to a distressed and divided nation. In other words, he did what he could, in his talented but fallible way, in his sometimes very good way, to make a better nation. As he leaves the executive office that nation will have to discover whether it can or will take up the torch, though the lies, horrors, and governmental stalemate of the past few years place that in considerable doubt.
I said that these are not political thoughts, for I have seen this kind of thing before in other contexts, far from the world of national governments. Many human organizations, whether social, artistic, scientific, educational or religious, have seen this before. They have called someone to lead, to come and help them in a trying situation, and someone came and did to the best of ability what he or she could. And some time thereafter a few troubled minds began a campaign of opposition, of denigration and defamation. And often there was much damage done because too many people allowed themselves to be swayed by fear, by untested allegations, and by that terrible human tendency to deal with one’s own self-doubt by believing the worst about others.
The people who incite these crusades of internal division are typically those with considerable personal challenges, troubles which they have not well overcome, and they have learned (perhaps subconsciously) how to manipulate others to follow them into the chaos. Frequently these adversaries know how to use against their target one particular mistake or instance of poor judgment, and their hearers are taken in. Such vocal people need help, yes even our empathy and assistance, though instead they are often taken as truthful experts. And people do follow them, without a proper checking of the facts or sometimes not even so much as speaking to the vilified ones to get their side of the story. It is the sad account of many human organizations.
Yet there is hope. There is the possibility of enlightenment, the kind of learning that happens when we open our eyes, clear our minds, get on a higher level and see how things are on our dysfunctional planet. That takes some humility, an admission that we ourselves are part of that dysfunction. And there is grace, for us and for all who pray that good will come out of these kinds of troubles, and we can become better people for having had such pains.