U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) coined the term civic grace during his 2020 presidential campaign. His call for bringing people together was framed around a “common purpose” among all Americans that fosters unity, compassion and grace. This idea of grace was centered around the Christian faith.
“I don’t know how many speeches of mine you can listen to and not have me bring up faith,” Booker has said.
Grace is a central precept of the Christian faith. Grace is impossible to earn — it is only given.
If we truly desire to heal, civic grace must be embraced and actively pursued. Civic grace is the practical application of the Biblical, unconditional gift of love to daily life. This includes social media posts, chats on the way to class and dinner conversations over the holidays.
Civic grace can not only apply to political leaders — it must apply to how we live our daily lives. The tone we strike when we discover a friend voted for President Donald Trump or the words we say when our uncle says something outlandish will reveal if we are actually devoted to healing the soul of our nation.
The Bible also calls on the world in Ephesians 4:31 to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” That’s a tall order. It’s impossible to fulfill this call in our own strength.
But the Bible provides a solution in the following verse, Ephesians 4:32: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” We deter bitterness with kindness, rage with tenderheartedness, anger with forgiveness and division with grace.
For many on UNC’s campus, the election results are what we desired. However, the election itself is not the turning point or catalyst that sparks healing and unity. The turning point is on us. The catalyst is us. It is our intentionality to walk in civic grace every day. It is our commitment not to admonish the other side, but show them the unconditional love they don’t deserve.
It’s not going to be easy, but it must be done if we truly desire healing and unity. Civic grace has been absent from Washington, but it does not have to be absent from our daily lives here in Chapel Hill. The president is on his way out, so there is no longer an excuse to remain complacent in bitterness, rage and division. As the president-elect said, now is the time to heal in America.
Now is the time for civic grace.