Saturday, September 19, 2020

Sign of the Times

I live in a small New Hampshire town where people have always treated each other with respect when it comes to government. We may differ on religious, social and political matters, but we do so in a civil manner. We discuss things fervently at the annual town meeting and monthly local government meetings, but then we shake hands and cooperate. There have been a few ornery exceptions to that rule over the years, but to my knowledge such people have never resorted to criminal activity.

This election cycle has changed things for the worse. Recently some friends of mine in town had their campaign sign stolen from their front yard. Apparently its message was too much for some people to allow to stand. The sign read: “Dump Trump. Vote.” Some men in a pickup truck used the cover of darkness to steal the sign and drive off noisily. Fortunately the crime (a felony in New Hampshire) was caught on a security camera and the footage has been turned over to the police. Hopefully it is only a matter of time until they are caught.

This is just one example of the incivility in politics that has inundated our nation in recent years. I have stopped watching television news as a result. Worse than the name-calling and lies is the underlying mentality.  There is a growing movement in our country to undermine the foundations of our democracy by suppressing the vote and intimidating people from exercising their right of free speech. Forces are seeking to undermine the democratic process and the legal system in our nation.

It makes me afraid for the future of our nation. What scares me the most as a Christian minister is reading about clergy in our country encouraging their congregations to break the law and condone unethical acts. I never thought I would see such behavior in our churches and country. People unashamedly seek to destabilize the electoral process by all means possible. Fortunately the American people are stronger than that.

My friends will soon be erecting a new sign on their front lawn with the exact same message. They are concerned that this time it will be met with greater violence. They shared with me that they are fearful that a rock will be thrown through their window by those who oppose their choice of candidate. For that reason I am not sharing their names, although they were glad I was writing this article.

The good news is that they have received requests from fellow townspeople for ten more identical signs. Let’s see the vandals take down all those signs in town! When anti-democratic forces in our country seek to stifle free speech and fair elections, it causes an upsurge of resistance from true patriots.

They have inspired me to put a sign in my front yard proclaiming my presidential choice as Biden-Harris with the subtitle: Save Democracy. I also ordered a second sign that proclaims “Christians for Biden.”

When vandals tear down signs, people of all political parties need to respond by erecting ten times more signs like the one taken down. Let us stand together against such behavior. As John Stuart Mill said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” So let’s do something. Exercise your freedom of speech and your right to vote. Do not allow our democratic freedoms to be thwarted by the forces of hate and intimation.