On the peaceful transfer of power


Peaceful
Copyright: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

I have avoided partisan politics in this blog. I am actually registered as an independent and have no party affiliation. I do not care a bit about whether any of the politicians who represent me in government have an “R” or a “D” behind their names.

Also, I am not a news junkie and am usually uninformed about current events. I did not watch any of the coverage of the inauguration. Politics is not my thing. That being said, even I am aware that there were violent protests in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th President.

Presidential inaugurations have been peaceful transitions of power where the presidential office transcends party politics and is honored by citizens regardless of their party affiliation. But yesterday there were violent protests against our newly minted president.

In 2009, there were many who felt that the election of Barack Obama was not good for the country. But I don’t remember many (any?) violent protests in response to his inauguration. There was plenty of complaining and pontificating in conservative circles about the Obama Presidency, but very little violence. In support of this, read this NY Times article.

What is different this time? What is it in our culture that seems to be pushing us toward anarchy?

Some will likely denounce this as too simplistic or as religious propaganda, but I think the drift toward anarchy is due to the popular opinion that there are no transcendent values or a universal moral law.

Without a moral law to which an aggrieved person can appeal, his only means of redressing his perceived wrong is brute force. Without a standard against which disagreements can be evaluated, the only alternative is to shout louder to win the argument.

As a Christian, when my government makes decisions with which I do not agree, I find comfort in the belief that nothing can derail God’s plan for humanity. You might think me delusional to believe this, but at least my delusion allows me to have peace in the midst of the conflict.

If God is indeed in control, we have a court of appeals where we can bring our frustrations. The Psalms are full of such complaint and appeals for God to act. We can leave it in God’s hands.

But if there is no God, then any means of winning is acceptable. Violent protest can then be construed as a virtue. If there is no higher law, violent protest is merely standing up for what one believes and no-one should criticize their methods.

Contrast this with the strategy of Dr. Martin Luther King. King pointed us to a higher law that revealed the shabbiness of our behavior to people of color. He showed us that those who resort to violence are on the wrong side of that higher law. He was right to do so, our country was broken and needed to be fixed. Our country is still broken, but as Dr. King showed us, violence will do nothing to mend it.

I wonder if those who subscribe to the meme that there is no transcendent moral code don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable with the slide toward anarchy that we are seeing in the political arena. I wonder if there is a small part of them that realizes the danger of allowing anyone to act upon the belief that he, himself, is his own standard.

That discomfort is a clue that there might indeed be a transcendent standard. It should also serve as a goad to find out what that standard is and who has the authority to set that standard. The consequences of not pursuing this question will be devastating on an individual and on a national level.