The First Presidential Debate and the Ignatian Tradition

by | Oct 8, 2020

I know the title of this piece sounds like an oxymoron. Wow, what a “free for all” that first debate was! I have been struggling like most with my emotions. I have a hard time understanding why so many in our country don’t think or feel the way I do. I feel tempted to dehumanize those who don’t. I feel angry, resentful, impatient, and tempted towards self-righteousness. It is easy to be cynical.

The Ignatian Tradition encourages all of us to assume the goodwill of others. There is a prayer practice within the tradition called the Examen, in which one daily notices what has been life giving and what has been life draining. That practice reminds me to notice, name, and welcome all that I am feeling and thinking. The Tradition assumes that God is in all things, even in the worst of circumstances. And, Ignatius invites us to hold outcomes lightly.

This came to me in prayer this morning. I find so much more interior freedom when I hear God saying to me:

  • Tom, think and feel the way you have been prayerfully led to think and feel.
  • Vote the way you have been prayerfully led to vote.
  • Encourage others to do the same.
  • Love everyone, regardless.
  • And detach from the outcome of the election.