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A campaign sign and a spiritual lesson

From the Christian Science Sentinel - November 4, 2008

Originally appeared on spirituality.com.


With any election, the simple fact is, one candidate will win, and one will not. For those who greatly support their chosen candidate and the values and policies he or she represents, it might be hard to come to terms with a certain outcome.

But I recently had an experience that helped me see how feelings of disappointment and frustration can be defeated.

I’d been volunteering for one of the US presidential campaigns and purchased a yard sign to put in my front lawn because I thought that showing my support might encourage undecided voters.

Late one night, I heard a group of guys yelling outside. I live in a college neighborhood, so there is typically a lot of late-night activity anyway. However, as I listened to these guys, I realized that they were in front of my house, messing with my sign and yelling insults about the presidential candidate it mentioned. My roommate and I decided to go downstairs and ask for our sign back. By the time we got down there, almost all of the guys had gone down the block, taking my sign with them. We followed, and soon my roommate and I found ripped pieces of the sign in the street. I was shocked.

Walking back to our house, I was very disturbed by the aggressive and disrespectful nature of what had happened. So I decided to pray about it before I went to sleep. I thought about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in which he instructs his followers to “turn the other cheek” when someone disrespects us, and to love our enemies (see Matthew 5-7). I soon felt more at peace falling asleep but was still upset by the situation when I woke up the next morning.

As I prayed, I realized that the sign was a symbol of the ideas I was identifying with, valuing and supporting. To me, it represented what I think is important for humanity and for the world: good, progress, and equality. When my sign had been ruined, it was almost as if these values had been violently taken and destroyed, too. And that’s why I was left feeling hurt.

I decided that I needed to shift my thinking about candidates and elections in general. Had good, progress, and equality been destroyed along with the sign? No. Even though the guys’ behavior challenged those ideals, I realized that the honorable qualities in both candidates and parties we respect are indestructible. And these spiritual ideas can never be destroyed, nor can they be left unexpressed or unfulfilled.

I also prayed to see that God governs, and His love and mercy meet each individual’s needs. It was helpful to consider that each candidate reflects God, and is a complete and whole spiritual expression. So whoever is elected can’t just represent one half, or “one wing” of God’s creation. Each candidate is capable of expressing sound reason, vision, empathy, and fearlessness.

Seeing more clearly that freedom, supply, health, and progress weren’t on the ballot, up for grabs, was a gift. I bet those guys never realized how their prank elevated my thoughts.

Suddenly, I didn’t really care so much about an $8 yard sign. I actually felt more prepared to face the results of the election with compassion because I realized how someone might feel if his or her candidate lost. And I felt ready to defeat feelings of fear, frustration, and disappointment with the love Jesus expressed so well in the Sermon on the Mount.

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