I was in second grade when John F Kennedy was shot. I cannot express the sadness that was felt by our nation during that time. We were not a desensitized nation then because the press and television still had a filter and did not show anything violent or report graphic details like that up to that time. So, Kennedy’s assassination was both unbelievable and horrifying.
At that time, Lyndon B Johnson was Vice-President and was quickly sworn in as our next president. Kennedy had been running for re-election when he was killed and Johnson decided to take his place as the incumbent and ran for what would be his first elected term. He ran against Barry Goldwater who was an outspoken conservative. I do believe Kennedy’s death caused many to rally behind Johnson and Goldwater really didn’t stand a chance.
During that election, I was in third grade. People in our class were predominantly Johnson supporters – of course we were all whatever our parents were. There was a girl in my class who religiously wore a Goldwater button to school every day. Several times she and another person in the class would go at it over who was the best candidate. It got quite heated and the teacher had to break it up and gave our class a talking to about democracy and how we had the freedom to vote for whoever we chose and express our opinion without condemnation.
It was no surprise to the country that Lyndon Johnson won by a landslide. The day after the election that girl came to school and some of the kids in our class said mean things to her and rubbed Goldwater’s loss in. I remember her crying and the teacher trying to comfort her. The kids who were mean were made to sit in a corner. The girl could not be consoled and had to go home. If I remember correctly she was out for the rest of the week until things calmed down. When she came back to class, there was a little tension, but she never said another political word.
I remember feeling so bad for that girl and all she had to endure just because she believed in a candidate that ended up not winning the election. Nobody should be made to feel bad or be verbally abused because of who they support or vote for in a Presidential or any other political election. We are the United States of America – “united” being the key word. When we act out like a bunch of third graders arguing and fighting, we lose respect in the eyes of other nations and our peers.
We are to accept whoever is in office and move forward. Jesus was our example. He showed respect and followed the rules of those who were in authority. He did not bad-mouth those who were in authority. He could have struck them all dead as they sent Him to the cross, but he allowed them go through the processes of their laws without one negative word or action.
The Apostle Paul was very clear that as Christians we are to submit, respect and pray for those who are in authority over us. Let’s face it, if God doesn’t want someone to be President, King or Prime Minister, they will not get into office. If God places that person in office, it is for our good, and that person is God’s servant whether he/she wants to be or not and whether we want them to be or not. We humans are not in control.
And when we rebel against whoever God puts in office, we are also rebelling against God and His will. Paul tells people not to rebel, but to do what is right. What is right is to allow that person to do their job and to follow the law no matter how we feel. It is okay not to like who God has put over us and express our concern in a caring and constructive manner. But it’s not okay to be disrespectful and hurtful to others.
As with everything in the Bible, this too shall pass. Every leader that God puts in place has a limited term. And there is not one man or woman on this Earth who when they get into office can please ALL people and do everything right. The only person any one must please is God. When we are doing that, there is no room for strife and malcontent, but a spirit of cooperation and caring. After all, our actions whether we are pleasing or displeasing God have eternal consequences.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:1-5