There is a graphic that has been making its way around social media in recent days that, when I encountered it, almost took my breath away.
“Kamala is beloved.”
“Donald is fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“Mike is cherished.”
“Joe is important enough that I died for him.”
The quote was signed: “Jesus Christ.”
Most of us in the United States, at least, immediately recognize precisely which four individuals that graphic refers to. Do those statements strike you as a given, a fact you already knew, something you’ve already thought about? Or did they hit you like a punch in the gut?
I confess to feeling a bit more like the latter.
When I encountered that image, I responded far differently than I usually do on social media. Most of us have learned in our years of constant scrolling to absorb information rapidly, to scan content for what interests us and for things we agree with. We take from each post the ideas we wish to keep and separate them quickly from the things we want to rush past and forget.
My instant reaction after glimpsing only the first line of this graphic was: “Wait a minute, what annoying political agenda is this person about to push?” Then I kept reading. And I went back and read it again. And again.
My social-media mind — the mind we’ve all got, the one that sifts and sorts and compartmentalizes and swiftly moves us along — turned itself off. This was something new. No one was advancing a biased narrative. No one was shouting about how God justifies their political view or demands condemning their opponents. No one was using social media to make themselves feel better about their political choices or to shame those with whom they disagree.
Though I stopped to reflect on this image far longer than I usually do online, I didn’t need more than a second to figure out what I thought of graphic’s message. It was just . . . true.
But how often do we think of it?
I know I rarely do, and after reading it, I wondered how much different our political landscape, our social media, our news, even our relationships might be if we kept this truth in mind: Each of us, including the people who we think are wrong, is beloved, wonderfully made, cherished. Each of us, were we the sole person on earth, is valuable enough to Christ that He would have become flesh and died on the cross for us alone.
Each of us, were we the sole person on earth, is valuable enough to Christ that He would have become flesh and died on the cross for us alone.
Doesn’t that have to transform the way we approach everything, even our fractious politics?
That’s not to say that as Catholics our faith and Church give us no guidance about why we might prefer one candidate or one party over another. Christ’s call to love one another doesn’t mean that every policy is equally acceptable from a Catholic perspective; in fact, it often means the opposite. Nor does it absolve us of the difficult work of carefully forming our conscience so we can participate in the political process without becoming complicit in evil or promoting policies that contradict fundamental Church doctrine.
The reality of Christ’s love should be the lens through which we approach politics, and it should inform how we conduct ourselves towards one another, particularly when our views are poles apart.
But this graphic gave me a rare opportunity to reflect on my mindset as a political writer, someone whose job it is to share my views and interact with people who sharply disagree with me. The reality of Christ’s love should be the lens through which we approach politics, and it should inform how we conduct ourselves towards one another, particularly when our views are poles apart.
On social media, for instance, how often do we remember that, on the other side of the screen, the person we’re interacting with is a human being rather than an avatar, a person of dignity and worth who, no matter how wrong he might be, is a beloved child of God? Do we lose sight of the fundamental goodness of our political opponents in our rush to prove them wrong? Do we make the mistake of believing that those who make the wrong political choice and support or advance evil are no longer worthy of love and are too far gone to be saved?
Especially in a year and an election season as fractious as this one, we must be all the more mindful that everyone around us — even the terribly flawed men and women fighting for the chance to be our leaders — is beyond price in the eyes of the Lord. Their redemption—and ours—indeed is purchased with His blood.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer at National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
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