Scripture: Amos 6:1-7
The recent presidential election proved to be a very sobering and surreal day for our country. It will probably go down in history as a day when everybody knew where there were on that day. On a day when the political pollsters and pundits had predicted the crowning and coronation of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the billionaire businessmen from New York, Donald J. Trump, pulled off the greatest upset in modern presidential politics.
Voter turnout statistics by CNN News revealed that the 2016 turnout was the lowest in 20 years The most disconcerting statistic was that of African Americans from 69.1% in 2008 and 67.4% in 2012 to 53% in 2016. While Baraka Obama’s name was not on the ballot, his legacy and vision for the country was. Donald Trump campaigned on dismantling everything that President Obama had accomplished from healthcare, immigration and criminal justice reform at home to trade and foreign policies abroad.
In my grappling with the election results because of what we had not done [low voter out] and my struggling with what God was doing [a Trump presidency], the words of the prophet Amos came to mind, woe to those who had become at ease in Zion (6:1).
Amos’ words described what I was feelings. They were words of mourning and lament for the death of what we valued as a nation; truth, and liberty, and decency, and respect, and justice, and equality for all.
I saw on television this week that the most recent word added to the Oxford dictionary for 2016 is “post-truth”. It means that the truth is no longer important. The presidential campaign was marked and marred this year by fact-checking to ascertain what the candidates said was true or not. For some voters what they said irrespective of whether it was true or not was believed because the truth didn’t matter.
The premature death of Israel’s national values, according to Amos, was caused by national arrogance. The people trusted in Mount Samaria and believed that they were greater than that of the surrounding nations (v.1).
The second cause of the premature death of Israel’s national values was national affluence. Woe, he says, in verses 4-6, to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch out on their couches, and eat lamb from the flock, and calves from the midst of the stalls, and sing idle songs on string instruments, and drink wine [not from cups] but from bowls, and anoint themselves with the best perfumes and colognes
This is where we failed to do our part as African Americans. We did not turn out to vote for whatever reason. We had become at ease in Zion; living where we live, and driving what we drive, and wearing what wear, and working where we work. While many thought there was no possible way that Donald Trump could win a presidential election in 2016 sounding like George Wallace 1968 presidential election, they underestimated the feelings of reverse discrimination and resentment by many white Americans towards people of color. National affluence has a way of making us lethargic to the realities of our day.
The final cause of the premature death of Israel’s national values was national indifference. Their prosperity had caused a paralysis that made them indifferent to the plight of the poor. In all that the Lord had blessed them with, they were not grieved by the plight of the poor.
As a nation, we have been paralyzed by our prosperity and indifferent to the plight of the poor. We have become paralyzed and indifferent to the plight of immigrants who have come to our country illegally in search of a better life. We have become indifferent to those innocent and unarmed lives that have been cut short by homicide and genocide and police militarism. Our indifference to the plight of the least of these has caused the premature death of our national values.
Work through your hurt and work out your pain. Grieve until you come to grips with your denial. It did happen. Donald Trump is our president. Grieve until you are able to accept what God has allowed, knowing that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.”
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway is the pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Ave. in Los Angeles. For information, call (323) 750-3240.