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South Williamsport, PA
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The Balance of Power

As I write this article, the presidential election results have yet to be finalized – and they won’t be for some time because the Electoral College votes on December 14. It is what it is, but the extended wait during such a contentious and divided season has everyone’s head ready to explode. Friends, we live

As I write this article, the presidential election results have yet to be finalized – and they won’t be for some time because the Electoral College votes on December 14. It is what it is, but the extended wait during such a contentious and divided season has everyone’s head ready to explode.

Friends, we live in one of the greatest nations that exists on planet earth. I base that belief on the never-ending stream of people who will risk anything to reach our shores and cross our boarders. Yeah, we have our problems, and much work remains to form a more perfect union, but we are the land of promise to millions of people who would give anything to call this place home.

One of the vulnerabilities we fallen humans struggle with is a tendency toward extremism. A quick review of human history easily exposes this problem. When we fell from grace, our ability to self-govern took an awful hit. Left to our own devices, we naturally run amuck.

As a red-blooded American, I have a special place in my heart for free-market capitalism. The competition created by enterprising and profit-seeking private citizens has resulted in tremendous advancements in every sector of business and life.

But there can be a dark side to capitalism. Because we fallen humans are unable to balance ourselves, unregulated capitalism can result in crippling income disparities and destroyed ecosystems. Williamsport experienced a darker side of capitalism during the lumber boom of the late 1800’s. The lumber barons built mansions while wood-hicks and lumberjacks struggled to feed their families. The boom also exacted a heavy toll on our local environment.

It could be argued that the extreme side of capitalism in the US is the result of other extreme sociopolitical systems that exist around the world. In other words, people suffocating under communism, socialism, fascism and despotism yearn to be free to pursue their God-given potential. When they arrive in the US, they don’t want anything holding them back.

The poem The New Colossus, also known as The Statue of Liberty Poem, concludes with this powerful refrain,
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

That golden door was forged by the brighter side of capitalism – but the darker side has sometimes prevailed. All sociopolitical systems are designed with good intent, but they drift toward extremism because they are managed by fallen human beings. Power and greed always lead toward dark extremes, and when they do, humanity suffers immense pain and injustice.

I’ve said all of that to say this: thank God for the balance of power in the United States. The founders of our nation, having just broken free of extreme tyranny, understood the problem, so they designed restraint and balance into the American experiment by providing three branches of government.

The Legislative branch, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, make the laws. The Executive branch, consisting of the President, Vice-President and the Cabinet, carry out the laws. The Judicial branch, consisting of the Supreme Court and the Federal Court System, interpret the laws. Each branch of government provides restraint and balance to the others.

Elections also provide balance. Regardless if it is a run for Williamsport City Council or President of the United States, every election can lead us back toward balance. Is it a messy process? You bet it is! But as we subtly shift back and forth between the extremes, we quite often strike the balance that is so crucial for the American experiment to succeed and for humans to breath the rarified air of freedom.

Let not your heart be troubled, the United States will survive the next four years. The balance of power and an impassioned electorate will protect us from extremism. Remember, if you don’t like the results of this election, your vote can turn it the other way in November 2022. This is why your vote, and the integrity of our voting process, is so essential.

America will also survive because the vast majority of Americans are not extremists. Elections focus on extreme positions and predictions, but the people who live in our beautiful community are not extreme. Red or blue, our fellow citizens are compassionate and hard-working people who love their families and want what’s best for our nation and our neighborhoods. Are there extremists among us? Most certainly, but they are vastly outnumbered by the rest of us. Don’t let their dark rhetoric cause you to look at your neighbors with suspicion. Let’s overcome the extremists by heading Paul’s closing comment in Romans 12, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

My friends, no election result is worthy of ongoing division and bitterness. Life is too short, and our holy potential is too grand. We have big things to do and a holy mission to accomplish, so let’s get on with it.

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