I was disappointed by this week’s presidential election. Okay, that’s likely an understatement, but the direction our country is going is a concern for me. My concern is that it feels like it’s the doctrine of fear, anger and hate that is winning – and that fear and hate is coming from both sides. Even more troubling to my mind is the increasing polarization of opinions and an increasing unwillingness to listen to the other side and find common ground.
It’s at the least sad and at it’s worst dangerous. The divisions in our discourse threaten to divide our nation. It fosters hate, which breeds violence. Violence that could explode uncontrollably.
I could write endlessly on the subject.
Someday I might, but for today I am going to turn to my religious, spiritual beliefs, and teachings of my father. The Jesus I know is force for peace and forgiveness. The spiritual belief I value above all others is to love, listen and help others.
My father taught me three lessons I’ll apply today:
- Don’t react, respond to the real problem.
- The only person you can change is you.
- Despots rise to power because moral people don’t speak out.
This week I’ve done something that I don’t do very often – I posted purposeful statements on my Facebook page declaring my feelings about the election. I have a number of friends and family in the LGBT community who are now fearful of having their rights stripped away. I’ve posted statements of support for these friends and their hard-earned rights to freely live their lives. In at least one post I promised to march with them if their rights were threatened.
That scares me, as does writing this post.
Generally I have confined my political action to voting and on patriotic holidays displaying the American Flag at my home. I stand for the national anthem, I thank those who’ve served in the armed forces, and respect the constitution and the institutions it mandates.
I do it quietly. Like I do most things. I like the personal peace I have around me and the mostly untroubled life I lead.
However in the current world, I now feel it necessary to move out of my comfort zone and start doing something more than just drop my ballot in the box. I’ve made a handful of posts on FB, and comments on blogs and I am sitting writing this post trying my best not to react with fear or anger, but rather with concern, love, and hope.
It would be emotionally satisfying to lash out against the president-elect and those who voted for him. It would be so satisfying to write that angry post and reflect all the hurt my soul feels.
But it wouldn’t help. It would only fuel the flames.
The real response is for me to understand what hurt, what fear, drove people to vote the way they did – on both sides. Then respond to that with acts of compassion and words of understanding. We desperately need to shut down the quick anger and move to considered responses.
I know that I can’t make others do this. My father often said that the path to frustration is to try to get others to behave the way you want. The only person you can change is you. You can influence others by your example.
Recently Heather and I have been reviewing our charitable giving and asking ourselves, “Are we putting our money where our mouth is?” We have decided that it’s time to increase our support of organizations that are in-line with our beliefs and hopes for the future. I wish that I could personally go support every cause or social program that is in-line with my values, but I just can’t – sometimes the best one can do is send a check in support of those doing the work.
Finally, there are limits. There are things in the world that I believe strongly must be stopped. I am willing to give the new administration a chance to govern, but I reserve my right as a citizen and a follower of the constitution to exercise my right – my obligation to speak and act against injustice.
May we all find a way to unite under one flag and care for one another.