It happened after Brexit. It is happening after Trump’s victory.
When did lament become being a sore loser? When did lament become a pity party? When did lament become an expression of doubt in God? Where is the space for lament?
I’m one of those people who took to social media to ask, ‘How did that happen?’.
‘Why did that happen?’
And, yes, many of my friends responded in kind. It’s true. I’ve got a lot of university educated lefty friends. But that doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the reasons behind what has happened. I get it. I see the divisions, the fear, the disappointment in our government.
But I also hear the hate. The fear mongering. The looking at our neighbours as ‘them’ and not ‘us’.
And I see all this and want to wail. To echo the psalms. To cry out, ‘Lord, save us and help us’. To lament. So I do.
I am grieving an election which put people in a terrible position. I’m grieving an election where a campaign fuelled by hate, derogatory remarks and divisiveness was somehow seen as the only hope. Where a leader can openly insult women like they are pieces of meat ready for his consumption, where a disabled journalist can be openly ridiculed, where violence can be incited, an entire race condemned as rapists, lies be spouted as fact and voting choices be based on single issues as opposed to the character of the person you are electing.
I’m begging my brothers and sisters to let there be lament. As the dust settles, there will be time for dissecting and explaining. For understanding. How dare you try and hurry along our grief? Or worse, suggest it is naive and pathetic. We are not allowed to decide the legitimacy of another’s grief. If we deny space for lament then how will we heal? How will we process this loss? And it is a loss. Not the loss of an election but the loss of an understanding of the world. For some, it is a loss of feeling safe. Of believing they belong in their own country. Who, when told to, ‘Get over it’, is helped?
As a teacher, I always taught my children to be kind, that bullying is never the answer, that we are all equal whether male or female, that speaking harshly would not help your cause, that people are good, that hard work is worthy, that our different backgrounds were a thing of beauty to be celebrated and when we look out for each other we all benefit.
This view is hard to reconcile with what has happened. Teachers and parents are having to explain to their children how this happened. How we have become divided. Yes, it is complicated. Yes, it is not the end of the world.
Yet, it is the dawning of an era that is seemingly very familiar. An era when loud rhetoric wins out.
Today, we remember. We remember the sacrifice that those who have gone before us made. Somehow, I feel our remembering is becoming hazy. Little by little we are allowing the mistakes of our past to be repeated.
The beautiful part of lament is that it allows growth. Each day brings a new dawning of hope. It might be too small a measure to notice but it will grow. Lament allows us the space to grieve, to pour out our disillusioned hearts on both sides of this ‘victory’. Lament allows our frail humanity the space to be brokenhearted. The space to feel our smallness. The space to feel. Lament allows us to comfort one another. To draw nearer. To put our trust in God once again.
As we lament and hope begins to build, we can draw together, combine our hearts to start again. We must start to love one another again.
For now, I turn to the psalms. They have become my heart cry when I am lost for words. When a heavy heart leads me to be mute in prayer. When I struggle to make sense of my surroundings. When I am angry and need help to use that anger wisely. When all feels lost and I need hope. I can join with a voice crying out thousands of years ago and speaking into my current reality.
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? ... But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13