I feel an urgency right now to redefine and reexamine everything. Perhaps this is because I’m watching nations all over the world divide themselves so extremely. If what is good for you is not good for me, is it possible that we will ever agree? I understand that something benefits you, but what if it hurts my brother? Who is more deserving to see the fruition of their deeply held conviction? Is it actually possible to put policies and practices in place that bridge divisions or please everyone? What are we actually working towards?
Inclusivity is hard to practice when neither side wants to stand with the other. Humility is hard to practice when everyone feels humiliated. How many of us are okay with ignoring huge lapses in decency and character in the name of personal benefit, power, and greatness? How many of us are shouting about compassion and equal rights for everyone but trampling on those in red hats or holding pro-life signs? It is complicated, messy, and completely overwhelming to me. Discrimination, hate, and prejudice towards anyone based on their race, class, sex, or anything else is unacceptable. But what about the blurry things? How do we support someone else’s views, experience, and rights when it seems doing so betrays our own? These are age old questions, I know. Are we really loving people if we’re expecting them to change? As someone who tries to follow the teachings of Jesus, I don’t think I have ever fully understood the charge to “love your enemies” until now because I could think of no one who felt like a challenge to love. But this is a good personal pain point. This is where growth happens. I wonder which is the greater display of love: to stand up or to step back? It is probably a both/and answer rather than an either/or answer. But what if the loving union I desire is realized by surrendering to it, not by trying to achieve it?
My hope will always be for my country to have leaders who are people of integrity and character that I respect even if I don’t always or often agree with their agendas. I’m not sure that is going to happen for me this year. But a lot of people felt that way the last 8 years and in remembering that I will also remember this:
I told someone close to me about being sexually assaulted and how the Trump Tapes were a trigger for me. I know I’m not alone in that. I expressed how upset I was about the possibility that we would have a president who publically shames and objectifies women and boasted about grabbing their genitals for anyone to hear. Her response was, “I’m not saying that what he said was right, because it’s not, but the media distorts and plays up what he says.” I love her more than anything and it’s all good, but her immediate reaction was to make less of what he said and in doing so she belittled my feelings and intelligence. She missed the point. I’m not an idiot. I know the media has a tendency to do distort and play up, but in this particular instance, it did not. And in this instance, the media was irrelevant, because all I needed was for her to be present in my pain. The pain of being used for a vagina. The pain of living in a culture where male identity is based on rejecting the feminine, and then we’re all surprised when men don’t see or treat women as fully human. I needed her to not want this to happen for me, even if she wanted it for herself, because she understood what it would mean to me.
At the same rate in which I stand with awe at how wonderful and beautiful people are, I am deeply saddened and ashamed at how terribly mean and hypocritical people are. I hear and see spews of hate, passive aggressiveness, and deafening silence far more than words of love for those with opposing views. Yes, I am sad about so many things I see happening all over the world. Let me be sad. Let me feel what I need to feel. Let me have my beliefs and convictions and do not belittle them. They have been birthed from my body, mind, and spirit, which is just as valid as yours. But know that I am committed to listening to others who have life experiences far outside my own. I want to try and understand and support what is best for you, even if it is not best for me. I want to hear ways I can practice this and put it into action. Pain is an equalizer. We all have it and we should not compare one against the other. But not experiencing racism, poverty, discrimination or oppression is no excuse for not recognizing it, empathizing with it, learning about it, and taking action because of it. We are all one and we all belong to one another. Perhaps we would learn if we surrendered to our one-ness.We must stop telling one another what to believe and instead find ways to live within our interconnectedness, our interrelatedness, our sacredness. Wouldn’t that be nice?
We must start writing a better story, not tweeting a worse version of ourselves.
Have courage. Be kind.