By: Rev. Dr. Robert A.F. Turner
The 2020 United States presidential and congressional elections was and are pivotal moments in history for most Americans. Our country was again tested, our unity was again fractured, and our faith once again was questioned. Being an American was demoralizing to most citizens. This year was a dark time for everyone and we will be remembered in history for our resilience despite the work of many darker angels. Devastating fires ravaging our forests, teetering on the brink of nuclear war, marching for justice in moments of endless conflict, and a deadly pandemic to top it all off. Americans have shown moral strength and spiritual endurance for an unprecedented combination of tensions and will – undoubtedly – with continued faith, will make it to the other side.
However, in these times of severe derision and division, it is easy to forget that at the core, we’re all Americans. Regardless of region, gender identity, race, or political stance, we’re all trying to make our country better for our children and trying to live to be and become the best we can. Our issues stem from varying beliefs which – though it seems counterintuitive – is the foundation of democracy. Our faith in a better future drives us to make changes or uphold the status quo. It all boils down to faith, belief, and what you hold dear.
Consequently, in this article, we will examine together what faith means, the role of faith in our government, and maintaining faith during testing times is a matter of both personal and societal doubt, turmoil and uncertainty.
What is faith?
We always hear the term faith thrown around when it comes to religion but truly, it extends to more than that. The idea of faith is personal to each and every individual. But what is it? Is there a universal faith? What is significance of faith in our lives?
Faith is simple yet so complex. We all experience faith in some way, shape, or form. Faith is just a belief or trust in someone or something including yourself. But beliefs about faith are so ingrained in society and a pivotal factor in who we are as a person. We have faith in ourselves, faith in society, and faith that the future will be bright. Our faith gives us hope to keep going and a reason to endure.
Humans are strong; we have lived through wars, natural disasters, and pandemics. We have been through so much and continue to fight each day. Why? What allows us to keep progressing in society? Is it the idea that the people in power will step up and take care of everything or do we have the power to do it ourselves?
The theory of legitimacy is the foundation of our democracy. The right to govern is derived from the people and it is the value of the citizenry and citizen faith in our government and society that makes our country progress. The founders of this country designed and put in place a system to voice our opinions and pursue appropriate change; we need to leverage that and make sure our government is representative of the people’s beliefs and responsive to its needs.
It’s easy to forget that and to allow ourselves to be bogged down in the negatives. Something always goes wrong so it’s hard to focus on what goes right. Voting has become a chore to complete once every four years. People go on and on about how things need to change but choose not to use the system that can make it happen. Maybe it’s apathy? Maybe it’s the thought that our vote doesn’t matter? But “maybe” doesn’t cut it. There was no “maybe” when our country was being made. Our voice is all we have. Once we vote, we put our faith in the hands of the government. Only when we do that, we can truly improve our country. The choices we make will impact ourselves and the people that come after – for better or for worse. But voice without faith is an empty exercise! Faith plus vote equals a vote with voltage!!!!!
Faith in Government
By no means is it easy having faith in an ambiguous entity that we believe is representative government. Just like our belief in a religious context, we have to trust that the people in power will have our best interests at heart. And it’s tough. Our faith will be tested each time a bill gets passed or trashed, each time an election does not swing our way, or each time a new politician is elected, particularly if they don’t seem to deliver on their promises or platforms.
But we must believe in our government and in the spirit of America. It takes more than one president or one law to destroy 200 years of democracy or all of our efforts to pursue democracy. We need to have faith in the institutions – not just one person. The founding fathers believed that our Constitution and our people will withstand anything thrown its way. Their faith in us resounds to this day and it is our duty to uphold it with fervent faith of our own.
In particular, with elections, faith can be hard to maintain. In this past election, 121 million Americans voted: the largest number of voters in history. But it is not over yet. Our electoral college, a key governmental institution, has yet to affirm the election of the President. Based on the results of the 2016 election, it is hard to believe that this hidden group of people will follow the will of the citizens like what happened in 2016.
But we must have faith that democracy will ultimately prevail. Have faith that the people’s voices will be heard. Faith in our nation as a whole – not just a singular leader. “We, the people” not “We, who have chosen a person”
We, the people, need to make a difference; there’s much left to do. Elections are only a part of our right to a voice. Go out there and continue to make your voice heard. Protect those who need protection. Speak for those who have no voice. Fight for those who have been marginalized.
Passion is undeniable and no one can take your belief away from you. Faith is important. Faith gives us motivation. Faith is the reason we can keep going. Faith in yourself, your country, and your community. Have faith and it will repay you.