Upon learning of U.S. Senator John McCain’s death on Saturday just two days after his family announced that he was stopping treatment for the aggressive glioblastoma he was diagnosed with last summer, I was heartbroken for the family.

Before McCain was a U.S. Senator, two-time presidential candidate, and public figure he was a father, a husband, and a son. He was an image bearer who has inherent dignity and worth.

He was also a brother-in-Christ. Granted, he was quiet about his faith, but he did follow Christ and was a faithful member of his local church in Arizona.

Was he a flawed person? Absolutely, we are all flawed people. Did I agree with him politically? Not in every instance. Yes, he made some votes that frustrated me, but at this time it does not matter.

He deserves, and more importantly, his family deserves respect during their time of loss, and I am disappointed by some of the reaction on the left and the right of people who did not like him.

McCain, political differences aside, is an American hero who faithfully served his country and sacrificed for her as a POW. He was a committed public servant. That is honorable, and we should honor that service and sacrifice. 

If a person can’t find it within themselves to find anything noteworthy or praiseworthy of the man they should remain silent. “If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything,” is excellent childhood advice that applies to this situation.

This advice crosses the partisan divide. I was saddened to learn of former Congressman Leonard Boswell’s death on August 17th (his wife just passed away on Saturday). I never voted for him even though I was a constituent, but I respect his service as a Vietnam veteran and his willingness to serve in Congress. 

Showing respect does not mean we should spout insincere platitudes. Those of us who know Christ are commanded to mourn with those who mourn, (Romans 12:15). Following this command means we don’t throw barbs at the person because we disagreed with them politically. 

If you as a person can not show a modicum of respect (even if it is silence) towards a public figure at times like these then that says more about you than the person you wish to criticize. You look like a jerk.

I was reminded over the weekend of the response I received six years ago when my son, Morgan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

I received notes, cards, social media messages and phone calls from presidential candidates, elected officials, and politicos from both sides of the aisle. It did not matter that I was a conservative blogger (who at times criticized some of the people who reached out to me). Most importantly, I was a dad who learned his son had a life-threatening disease (last fall he was officially declared cancer-free, praise God).

My family and I appreciated the sentiments and prayers of those who contacted me (and the response wasn’t limited to the political world, we had people across the country praying for my son, and it was humbling and so encouraging).

To know how to respond during times like these is not difficult. Be a decent human being, put politics aside, and if what you want to say is not something you would say to the family in person, then you shouldn’t say it online either.

Update: Just a few short hours after publishing this I learned the White House flag was at half-staff less than 48-hours after Senator McCain passed away. Typically, the flag is lowered until burial. I’m not sure what President Trump wants to communicate here, but the only thing that is coming across is that he is petty and vindictive. McCain deserves the same respect shown to any U.S. Senator who passed away in office – no more, no less. 

2nd Update: President Trump signed a proclamation lowering the flag to half mast until Senator McCain’s internment. This was the right thing to do. It should have been done over the weekend, it would have saved him a lot of grief. 

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