It’s time for a new prayer for America

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2016

The late Dejerilyn King Henderson used to end her public comments at Troy City Council meetings by telling the public how many days until the next election – and how many days voters had to register for that election.

“If you aren’t at the table, you’re probably on the menu,” she would say.

While Henderson’s urgings were often driven by her political leanings, the point she made spot on. Voting and engaging in the election process is at the very heart of our republic. It’s not only our privilege as citizens to engage, it’s our duty.

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When the democratic process is fraught with discord, discontent and disrespect – as the 2016 presidential election was – engaging can seem like a fruitless endeavor. But it never is. Here in Pike County, some 58 percent of registered voters turned out on Tuesday, casting more than 13,240 ballots in the presidential, congressional and district races on the ballot. For many of us, those votes came with prayers and angst, ballots cast less as a vote of support than a cry for long-overdue change.

And as the results were tallied Tuesday night, the reality of the strength of our democratic process came into focus. Politicians and pollsters, long projecting that GOP nominee Donald Trump had “no clear path” to the electoral college win, underestimated the American people and the level of their discontent. And Hillary Clinton, the beleaguered Democratic nominee, overestimated the loyalty of nearly 10 million people who helped elected Barak Obama in 2012, but failed to cast a ballot in 2016.

The one thing on which both sides can agree is that America is deeply, deeply divided, and our passions run deep on each side of the red-blue line.

As we move forward today, tomorrow and in the next months and years, we have to find a way to bridge that divide. We need to find our way back to civil discourse – to respect for our fellow Americans, whether we agree with their politics or not. We need to find a way for our elected officials – and those on the other side of the aisle – to work together to bring about that much needed change in America, an ensuring that we continue to respect the simple dignity of life and of those with whom we disagree.

For months, we have been subjected to one of the ugliest, most vicious campaigns in recent history. We have seen the dark underside of corrupt politicians and morally suspect candidates, and it’s not pretty. We have been insulted, outraged and offended. We’ve fought for a place at that table, that D.J. Henderson so often referenced. And we’re not naïve enough to believe that a gracious speech or two will easy the deep wounds our country faces. But we do believe that America is filled with a nation of people who are inherently decent human beings, who desire to do right to find justice, even if we can’t agree on how to define those.

Nearly 29 years ago, then Pope John Paul II visited America. He talked about the fundamental principles on which America is founded and about the hope for our future.

This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival-yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person … Today, therefore, my final prayer is this: that God will bless America, so that she may increasingly become – and truly be – and long remain one Nation, under God, indivisible. With liberty and justice for all.”

For all of us who prayed for deliverance from a candidate, or for an outcome in the election, let us know take up this new prayer … one that can help us unite and move forward. Together.