In September of 2001 I was teaching 6th Grade at a Christian school. On the 11th day of that month I found myself facing a room full of children who were just as shocked, horrified, and distraught as I. They all wanted me to help them make sense of it, but I couldn’t. All I could do was pray with them, and so that’s what we did.
We spent the majority of the day in prayer. We prayed for the victims and the first responders, we prayed for the friends and families of those who died, and we prayed for little kids who had seen the news and were probably really scared. Whenever one of the students thought of someone they knew living within a 1000 mile radius of New York City, we stopped and prayed for them too.
When my students returned from lunch that day they asked who they should start praying for. I thought for a minute before finally saying, “You know, in the next little while our President and other leaders are going to be having intense discussions and making serious decisions. So right now why don’t we pray for President Bush?”
The minute I said that one of the boys in my class gasped. I looked at him and he said, very seriously, “You’re one of those, aren’t you?”
“One of what?” I asked.
“One of those…Republicans?”
Before I had a chance to answer a girl turned around and glared at him. “So what if she is?” she asked. “My parents are those and they’re smarter than dumb Democrats.”
The boy got ready to fire back, and I knew things were about to get ugly.
“Hold on you guys,” I said. “This isn’t about being a Republican or Democrat. You know what? It’s not even about being an American. It’s about the fact that President Bush will be making decisions that will impact the lives of countless people around the world. Don’t you think we should pray for him?”
And so we prayed.
Let’s fast forward 12 years. We’ve had elections, wars, natural disasters, financial disasters, terror attacks, moral failures, mass shootings, a government shutdown, and so much more.
And although I am no longer standing in a room full of students, the debate of that day still rages before me. But this time it’s on Facebook, in the media, through Twitter, and even at sporting events.
“The Republicans are dumb!”
“Democrats are dumb!”
“See, Republicans are immature!”
“I know you are, but what am I?”
Arms folded, dirty looks, and thus endeth the debate for the day.
But the very sad thing is that those arguing today aren’t children merely regurgitating discussions they have overheard. They are adults who really should know better.
And just as the argument from that day in my classroom remains the same, my response to the state of things today remains the same. This isn’t about being a Republican or Democrat. It’s not even about being an American. It’s about the fact that President Obama and the leaders of the country are making decisions that will impact the lives of countless people around the world. Don’t you think we should pray for all of them?
I am not going to presume to have the answers to any of the debates.
But I do know what I can do. And that is pray.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
And for everyone who believes that those who are on the other side of the aisle are your enemy:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
See you soon.