Growing up in a family of 3 very active and very competive boys, fighting was a common thing. We competed for everything. From who would get to the car first (which was usually Joseph because he’s fast), to who could make the most 3 pointers (which was always Josh because he’s the only one who can really shoot among us), to who computer games, we always turned everything into a contest.
I can’t say I was very good at many things but I was fiercely competive – and hot headed.
Which led to a very physical altercation when my older brother, Joseph, pretended not to show me something, which ticked me off, and I wrestled him until we got into a fist fight. I don’t remember much of the details because things happened quickly. I do remember Joe hitting my head on the wall and cracking the wall, and my dad coming out of his room half asleep because it was midnight, and I, seeing the good boy Joe stop fighting out of respect for my dad, took advantage of the situation and released a series of punches on his face, bloodying his nose and eye. To Joe’s credit, he just took it because he didn’t want to fight in front of my dad.
My dad told both of us to go to the kitchen, he wiped Joe’s face and something cold from the fridge for his bruises. Then he asked, “What’s this all about?” Joe explained what happened and we both got grounded simply because we weren’t supposed to be hurting our brother no matter who started things or how they were acting. He didn’t lecture as long but I can’t forget what he said last. Looking at us with our bloody shirts now crusting, he said, “I hope you will fight just as fiercely FOR each other the way you fought against each other tonight. I’m going to bed.”
Then he went to bed.
I remember that incident the night before my wedding, as I read the posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter. The problem with personality politics is that the principle is always lost – even as we think we’re fighting for it. We know we are principled when we remain respectful of others choices despite not agreeing with them, simply because we know that the principle of freedom is that they are entitled to their own opinion. We know we are not as principled as we think, when we become defensive, unable to discuss with principles, and respect the principled decisions of others. In the car of my friend yesterday, the one with the big DC sticker, I had an animated discussion about the differences in our votes. Neither one of us ended up convincing the other, yet neither one of us felt slighted, insecure, and angry because of our disagreement. After we had dinner and chatted, and tomorrow he stands with me as one of my groomsmen.
I think what makes that possible for us is this: more than politics, the man-made exercise of choosing man-made leaders, we love God and we love each other. These are the foundational principles by which ALL other considerations stem from, they are the primary principles that govern us, and IF secondary principles cause us to disagree, we shall disagree in a manner that does not violate our primary principles. We will vote differently, each based on our own defined values, convictions, and understanding, but we will protect our primary principle as we do by staying respectful, loving, and working together to serve others because we understand that while the president is a big man, he is just a man, and he is just one man. We all have a part to play.
Whoever wins you’ll find me doing the same thing I’ve been doing for over 10 years now, working very hard, being disciplined, building things, and using whatever little I have to honor God by serving others, building communities, and developing people to become the best that they can be. The conditions may change but my life purpose doesn’t. I’m glad to continue to contribute no matter who wins the spot.
So I end my series on the 2016 elections with a simple hope: that after the elections, we would fight just as fiercely FOR each other just as we did against.