The past few election seasons have brought out a growing feeling of dread in me. The divisive rhetoric during those times is normally enough to drive me crazy, but the added elements of election denialism, hate groups, and political violence have introduced a new layer of fear. So, that mix of feelings was with me this past fall, when my colleagues at NETWORK Lobby and I went on a month-long election education tour through three swing states ahead of the 2022 midterms.
During our tour through Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, we couldn’t escape the divisive political ads or the ever-present anxiety that seemed to linger in the air. But when I shifted my focus to the individual encounters we had, I found moments of optimism that punctured through my pessimism.
At each of our stops, we met people and organizations that were beacons of hope in times of deep uncertainty. Cristo Rey Community Center in East Lansing, Michigan converted an old Catholic school into a thriving food pantry and medical clinic for their underserved community. Esperanza Threads in Cleveland, Ohio empowers unemployed people with the vital skills to obtain sustainable jobs. Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh is a base of support for Latino immigrants in southwestern Pennsylvania. These folks are the hands of feet of Jesus, bringing hope and life into the world, beyond the regular election cycle.
To be clear, pursuing justice through our vote is also important and necessary though. Our country needs elected leaders and policies that prioritize creating an inclusive society where everyone can thrive. While the threats to our democracy are still very real, Christ-like individuals and groups, like the ones we met on our tour, give us an inspiring glimpse of the type of Beloved Community we can create through our advocacy.
- Where have you encountered Christ-like individuals and groups that give you hope?
- How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world?
Colin is the Grassroots Outreach & Education Coordinator at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice working to empower young people through faith-based advocacy resources and opportunities. He serves on the steering committee for IFTJ and taught classes at Georgetown University’s Capitol Applied Learning Lab. During free time, Colin leads trivia night at his local pub and explores post-Christian thoughts at Erēmos Journal.