December 30, 1915
“Governor Winfield S. Hammond dies only eight months after taking office, when he suffered ptomaine poisoning on a trip south and died of a stroke in a little bayou town in Louisiana.” *
Governor Hammond was “a staunch Democrat in Republican community”, namely, the city of Mankato and Watonwan County. His ambitions politically were to minimize the bureaucracy of our state government, and eliminate waste. He achieved his political office with bipartisan support. **
What draws me to his story today is that he lived as a political minority in his hometown, yet achieved the highest post of leadership in the state. Politics, both in his era and the present, is more often a game of division than multiplication. The effects of partisanship, past and present, often turns friend against friend, spouse against spouse, and family against family.
What is Your wisdom for us in this, King of Kings? Each day, each moment, we are offered choice by You; will we make relationship, or break relationship? Daily You offer us this insight:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4***
On the personal level, we can have a thriving connection with someone who disagrees with us. We often are married to such a person, work daily with them, or live nearby. We know that person so well, and love them, so we choose to agree to disagree in select areas for the sake of relationship.
Yet when it comes to politics, and its seasons of heated rhetoric, we allow our disagreements over knowledge to supersede our relational “knowing”. Why is this? Why does information trump partnership?
Eternal Father, have mercy on this condition, both in Hammond’s era and the present. We have asserted our superior knowledge against our resolve to continue relating in the context of relationships. We have broken faith with each other over the letters “D” or “R”.
Will You have mercy on on us? Will You help us to “love our enemies”? Will You especially give us grace for our beloved enemies; members of our own household whom we cannot reach agreement?
We offer thanks for Governor Hammond, and his propensity to listen and unite with his opponents. Will You bless him, his progeny, and those who work and especially listen to those across the aisle? Will You fulfill his incomplete visions to create a responsive system of leadership in Minnesota? Will You overcome the acceptance of faction and partisanship as a necessity for the civic leadership of our society? Will You replace knowledge with knowing, and make us one people? Amen!