Election statement: Michigan Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs Jr.

'We must get beyond our grief and our elations'

Posted Nov 10, 2016

[Diocese of Michigan] Where do we go from here?

Some folks are angry. Many feel hurt, afraid and betrayed. Others are struggling with what to say – how to explain – to children, grandchildren, or friends in countries around the world about the results of the 2016 presidential election. Clearly, there are folks who are joyful; people who feel gratified, confident and maybe even vindicated. Others are excitedly sharing with their progeny that the democratic process works.

The gift of our free society is that we reinforce the inevitability that there will be winners and losers every time we go to the ballot box. The difference this time is that the rhetoric of the campaign was particularly ugly and divisive.   The tenor of the now completed election cycle cannot be condoned.  It is time to move beyond it.

Michelle Obama said, “our motto is: when they go low, we go high”. She and President Obama understand that our children and our grandchildren are watching us. My own grandparents used to put it this way; “little pictures have big ears,” meaning that what adults say/do is heard/absorbed by the younger generation. Thus, our leadership matters! What we say and do, matters! How we respond in adversity and in blessing will witness to those who must lead in the future. While another of the gifts of our free society is the right to protest, let our protests be tools to promote justice for all and not weapons that further divide. The protesters who gather in cities across our nation remind us of our strength as a community, as well as the fragility of our humanity. We must cautiously and intentionally seek to separate the right to peaceful and lawful protest from our anger and upset, and, ashamedly for some, our susceptibility to be drawn into violent acts when we feel unheard.

In the church, we have a set of guiding principles to help us remember the correct path forward. The baptismal covenant asks: “will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself”; and, “will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”  We respond to each question: “I will, with God’s help.”

Politicians and their promises are not our holy grail! Our savior is the loving Christ. In Christ, we are called to seek, support and respect justice, peace and the inherent human dignity of all. That was our call before the election; that is our call immediately following the election; that is our call tomorrow and beyond.

My friends, we all must get beyond our grief and our elations. We must work together in Christ for the sake of one another. We must come to embrace the motto of our First Family: “when they go low, we go high.”

Be a positive witness for good for the next generations and know that you do not walk alone: you walk with Jesus.


+Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.