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I am sure I do not have to tell you that two days ago was Election Day in the United States. People across the country for months have been expressing their opinions on a variety of issues and candidates. Extremely strong feelings have been verbalized and put into print for what has seemed like an eternity.

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As you read this the results of some contests, including the office of the President of the United States, may not yet be determined but one thing is crystal clear. There is no doubt that we do not all see eye to eye. What seems perfectly clear to one is often seen differently by another. Sometimes the views are so dramatically different one cannot help but wonder how it is possible. Surely one or the other is wrong.

I wonder if it is not simply that people may be looking through different lenses.

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Recently while watching one of the World Series games on television the picture seemed blurry. After a few moments I discovered the problem. I had become so relaxed in my recliner and I was looking through the wrong part of my glasses. There was nothing wrong with the picture. I am near-sighted so I wear glasses that allow me to see things clearly both up close and at a distance. The trick is to look through the proper section of the lens.

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During this pandemic my wife and I have tried to adhere to the restrictions and observe the protocols in place to keep us healthy. We wear our masks, keep our distance, and avoid crowds. These and other changes have created a sense of isolation and serious boredom. To get some relief we have occasionally taken a drive. No contact with others. Just a change of scenery. One day as we drove along the highway the horizon seemed overcast. Once I replaced my sunglasses with my clear lens, things were much brighter.

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On one occasion we took a lengthy road trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On the way up we traveled a long distance on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed the leisurely pace and the incredible scenery. On the return trip we traveled mostly on interstate highways. Neither route was the “right” one. One was not “better” than the other. Each one of the separate routes gave us a different perspective. They were different but each of them allowed us to reach our desired destinations.

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There is often more than one answer to any given matter. There is more than way to reach a conclusion. For instance, 2 plus 2 equals 4. But 3 plus 1 also equals 4. We can count it on our fingers, write it on paper, or use a calculator to determine the answer. The method or means we employ may be different but the conclusion is the same.

There are a lot of “lens” through which we view life. Family environment. Education. Travel and other life experiences. Our race, gender, and social status. Political and religious affiliations. And the list goes on. All of these, and many more, contribute to how we see things and what we understand about the many issues. It is easy to think that the other person’s view is “right” or “wrong” because of the lens through which we see life.

Perhaps our differences might be minimized or at least we could see the value in the perspective of others if we realized that we are simply viewing life through different lenses.

Jamie Jenkins

When I am driving I often listen to the news at the top and bottom of the hour but mainly so I can catch the traffic and weather report which on WSB Radio provides “every six minutes.” One day this past week I tuned in just in time to hear the well-known talk show host excitedly proclaiming that one of our top national leaders was “cramming it down their throats one more time.”

When did this kind of behavior become acceptable and commendable? I have never found it to be helpful to “cram something down another person’s throat.” It might momentarily make the person feel like they have accomplished something but in the long run this “in your face” attitude does not produce positive results. It creates, or extends, a scenario of winners and losers. And when that happen, everyone loses.

I am of the opinion that a good deal is not when I win and you lose. Of course, there are times and situations when one person comes out ahead but I don’t think the goal is to conquer or defeat the other. “All for one and one for all” is best known as the motto of the title characters in the book The Three Musketeers, by the nineteenth-century French author Alexandre Dumas. Whenever possible we should endeavor to find ways where everyone receives benefit from our actions and decisions.

Is this a foolish and naïve attitude? Maybe, but I will go with it instead of the disposition that I must excel and you must fail.

As you well know we are in an election year and the campaign ads are plentiful and many demonstrate the underside of humanity. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I have always voted for who/what I think is best and both parties have often received my vote- and sometimes neither of them. I try to understand the issues and discern what seems best. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.

Name calling and one-upmanship are common practices in politics, religion, business, and life in general. In my opinion these practices do not promote healthy relationships or positive results. One current political advertisement suggests that one candidate is no bad that he “gives pigs a bad name.”

I am appalled at how often I hear people called losers, morons, idiots, and other names intended to make them “less than” someone else. I do not understand why it seems necessary to demonize or demean another person regardless of their political, religious, social, or intellectual stance.

We have had a problem growing grass in our backyard. My wife has created beautiful flowers beds but we cannot seem to find an answer to our water problem. Currently we are engaged in yet another attempt to correct this situation. We do not always see eye to eye but that does not mean we attack each other because we have different opinions about the solution.

I recently had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. A neighbor had the same kind of surgery on the same day as mine. Both of us are carrying our arm in a sling but he has less time than I to support his arm in this manner. I was instructed not to drive as long as I was wearing the sling. He was told he could drive as soon as he quit taking pain medication- which was just a couple of days. Another friend injured his rotator cuff but his doctor said it could be corrected with physical therapy and would not require surgery.

Does one of these doctors know what they are doing and the others are quacks and don’t have a clue? Did one physician get his degree and training from a reputable institution and the others probably went to some second-rate school or bought their degree online? No! Because of the different degree and nature of the injuries, age, and other factors each doctor came to a different decision to address the problem.

Words hurt and words heal. Our attitude can do much good or harm. We can view others as our enemies or friends. Our actions are constructive or destructive. We can love or hate. The choice is ours.

Jamie Jenkins

After many months of extremely confrontational and extravagantly expensive campaigning, Donald Trump was elected yesterday to be the 45th President of the United States.

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The presidential campaign lasted almost two years. During that time pollsters provided much information and political pundits made their projections but now all speculation has ended. Promises have been made. Accusations and insinuations have flowed freely. Now the nation has made its decision. I am sure that many people are ecstatic and many others are disappointed.

What are we to do now? If “our” candidate won or lost the election, the response needs to be the same. We need to come together to make the most of the decision. The outcome of this election was determined by the person who got the most votes. Majority rules in a democratic society. That does not mean the majority is always right. The winning vote is not always an indication that the achieved results are the best. Regardless, the need now is to come together in unity around common goals and work for the common good of all people.

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A “winners and losers” attitude will not be helpful as we move forward. American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard counsels us to “Minimize friction and create harmony. You can get friction for nothing, but harmony costs courage and self-control.”

Courage and self-control lead to unity. The moment calls for people who will be bold enough to maintain a strong presence while exercising self-control in interactions with others of differing ideas. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “unity has never meant uniformity.” In other words, we don’t have to give up our deeply held beliefs and march in lock step in order to be unified.

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The words of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians are applicable to our current situation. “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, and profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Wake up from your sleep. Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 4:29-5:2, The Message)

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Lord, help us to act and speak in ways that build up each other.

Jamie Jenkins