I’ve been struggling to put into words how I am feeling this morning. While silence might be the most pragmatic approach, I simply cannot be silent on a day such as this.
But I hope that you’ll hear me out, because I deeply believe that authenticity and vulnerability can lead to greater understanding.
As a student, I was once taken advantage of by someone in a position of authority. It’s not something I talk about. And I have dear friends and loved ones who have endured much worse at the hands of men who felt entitled to commit heinous crimes against the sons and daughters of God. I have witnessed men dismiss behavior, blame victims, and gaslight those around them to get exactly what they want.
I belong to a minority religion that had an extermination order placed upon its members right here in America. This order was not officially rescinded until 1976(!). My ancestors were refugees that fled Illinois from angry mobs, in search of a land that would allow them peace and freedom to worship according to their moral conscience. If they had not left their homeland in search of another, I would not be here today.
My children attend a charter school with a fantastic Spanish dual immersion program. As a result, they have fallen in love with Hispanic culture and have many classmates and friends from immigrant families. Friends that now live in genuine fear for what the future may hold for their relatives. And my children are struggling to understand how and why this is happening.
If you know me personally, then you’re likely aware that I am as politically moderate as they come. Raised in the Democratic stronghold of Chicagoland by Republican parents, I grew up learning to respect and understand all sides of an issue— rather than merely falling in line under the banner of partisan politics. I have friends and loved ones that come from all walks of life—different races, religions, sexual orientations, cultures, and ideologies. While I may not always agree with them, I do love and respect them. So please understand that I am not speaking from one side of the political spectrum or the other.
I can respect the frustration that is driving the conservative movement in this country. Having lived in semi-rural Utah for the last 13 years, I have been immersed in red state culture for quite some time and have come to understand many of the reasons individuals have for voting for someone such as Donald Trump.
I cannot respect the vitriolic dialogue that is currently being spewed across America today. Angry voices calling upon Clinton supporters to leave the country; celebrities being shamed for exercising their rights as American citizens. Catch phrases currently being chanted throughout our great nation that demean and destroy. People speaking to and treating others in a manner that is beneath us.
Please, please, let’s remember that each of these individuals, no matter who they are or what they believe, is a real human being.
With a real heart. And real families.
A child of God, just like yourself.
And while we don’t have to agree with one another, it would do us all well to realize that we each bring our own life experiences and understanding when navigating the world of politics.
Because of my own personal history and that of my forefathers, subjects such as sexual assault, abuse, protection of minority rights, women’s rights, and compassion for others are incredibly important to me. Because of those things and more, I could not and would not vote for Donald Trump. So much of his platform and rhetoric was incredibly triggering for me and millions of other Americans. Those issues were paramount in our voting decisions. And before you decry the faults of Hillary Clinton, let’s pause and remember that not all of us chose to vote for her either.
Perhaps because of your own personal history and that of your forefathers, you were led to do the opposite. I will try to understand. I will respect your choice, if you can please try to empathize and respect mine.
In his acceptance speech last night, Donald Trump spoke of reuniting the country and putting aside the ugliness of the campaign. Although I have personal misgivings about his sincerity, I truly hope that he proves me wrong. But the nation cannot be unified if we continue to verbally attack and belittle one another. When we demonize the other side and classify them as “less than.” This applies universally to all people of all walks of life.
As one of my personal heroes, Patricia T. Holland, remarked, “The point is, we simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another—or ourselves—so harshly.”
And so today, I ask that we return to civility. That we recognize the divinity in each of God’s children, no matter their subscribed ideology or creed.
To conclude, I’ll invoke the words of another hero of mine, C. S. Lewis, who stated so beautifully:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. … Next to the blessed sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (The Weight of Glory)
Let’s help each other reach for something higher.
We are so much better than this.
Edited on 11/10/16 to add:
At the time of the original post, most of the angry lashing out that I personally witnessed was from Trump supporters. Everyone else seemed to be shocked into a stunned silence over Trump’s upset victory. However, now the vitriol is coming from both sides. Rest assured that my thoughts apply equally to both sides of this conflict. It is not my intention to call out one side over another.