While I wouldn’t say I’m pleased with the result of today’s special election in Massachusetts, I choose to look optimistically toward the future. When I was in high school, I had an English lit teacher who taught that American politics is a pendulum that swings back and forth between conservative and liberal power. It certainly seems that way. Looking only at a recent narrow loss (or victory, depending on one’s affiliation), the country lately seems incredibly polarized. But through my study of American history, I’ve become aware that our society more closely resembles a spiral rather than a pendulum. The spiral, though it circles around from a more liberal power concentration to conservative and then back again, continues to move toward equality, justice, and a shared responsibility for the well-being of every citizen and the rest of the world.
That doesn’t mean I’m becoming complacent. I’m always going to continue to work hard for progress, and as a follower of Jesus, the salvation of every human being, and the flourishing of all creation. But the benefit of this realization means I no longer have to view the result of each election as the triumph of good over evil, or evil over good, but as a continuation of a process that has gone on since our government was created. The founders set the bar high, dreaming of unity, liberty, justice, and the welfare of all. Perhaps, of all of these, unity is the loftiest ideal. Here’s the crazy part: I’m thinking e pluribus unum isn’t just a dream. We’re spiraling toward that reality…in slow-mo.
In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”