Mark Jamison


The inclination is to be frustrated at the inconsistency and cognitive dissonance. For example, when a letter appears in these pages asserting that Mr. Trump is responsible for the vaccine, a claim that is at best questionable and at worst an obtuse denial of objective facts that show the administration’s utter lack of attention, preparedness and competence throughout this pandemic. 

Or from early failures at distributing PPE to current failures to effect a competent distribution plan for the vaccine. The claim was that 20 million would be vaccinated by the end of the year. The reality is that’s only about 2.5 million.

Or when folks repeatedly claim massive election fraud when there is no evidence or proof of any such thing. Yes, there were isolated incidents, for example the senator from Missouri who was registered at an address he did not live at in violation of state law. But the repeated claims of in-person fraud used to justify voter suppression are simply not borne out by any facts or evidence. Worse are the claims of conspiracies to change votes and the attacks on civil servants who administer elections, all of them originating from fevered imaginations that simply can’t grasp that the candidate they cultishly worship did not win more votes.

Yes, Mr. Trump got more votes than any previous presidential candidate, 74,222,593 (not the 75 million he exaggerates). But that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Biden received 81,281,502 votes and as much as Mr. Trump’s supporters would like to deny the validity of that, neither wishing nor believing changes the raw fact.

At base the real belief seems to be that those 81 million votes are somehow less worthy or were cast by Americans who were less worthy than those who supported Mr. Trump. There have always been flaws in the fabric of the American experiment but the current conceptions rend the very soul of our nation, dividing We the People and making a lie of Liberty and Justice for all. Our aspirations towards greatness are betrayed by a descent into mendacious authoritarianism.

The inclination is to be angry, to be offended at the casual cruelty, the insults, the disregard for others, the plain bad manners. Mr. Trump blusters and bullies, blames and deflects responsibility, wallows in his grievances while thousands of Americans die each day and others are immiserated by his feckless response and management.

Meanwhile, a Congressman-elect, a callow youth whose victory is based not on accomplishment or merit but on his willingness to stoop to idolatry for a false prophet, suggests those who opposed him should “cry.” Perhaps this is just another example of the abandonment of a government of the people, by the people, for the people in favor of the mobster mentality of “I’ve got mine.”

The inclination is to be angry and frustrated, Moses coming down the mountain to find his brethren in a frenzy of worship around the golden calf and smashing the tablets. But the overwhelming message of Scripture – faith, hope, care for our neighbor and acceptance that all God’s children are our neighbors, and most of all,  forgiveness and grace – bids us otherwise.

So in this new year it is my hope that we retreat from anger, fear and disdain and reach for reconciliation. May we escape from ignorance, greed and selfishness and embrace acceptance, equality and justice. 

May we find new love for neighbors and acceptance of many more as neighbors. Let us seek civil discourse and understanding, forgiveness and hope, so that our aspirations as a nation and as individuals embrace the fundamental message of grace.

Mark Jamison writes for He lives in Cullowhee.