Thursday, November 10, 2016

i don't understand.

This week, leading up to election day, I continuously prayed, "Please, Lord, give us what we need and not what we want. Be with our country. Lead us in the right direction, whatever is Your will. I put my trust in You to be sovereign today, tomorrow, next week, forever. You already know the results of our election. Give us the grace and wisdom to accept whatever it is that is Your plan."

I woke up Tuesday morning and I kept telling myself, love conquers all. Love drives out all fear. Love will prevail. Whatever happens in this 2016 American election, love is the ultimate winner and love will overcome evil.

I don't, and didn't, think Hillary Clinton was our savior. She is far from perfect as an individual and legislator, she is a flawed human (just like all of us!), she is not a magic pill to solve our country's problems or even make anything better. My hope was not in her.

I don't, and didn't, think Donald Trump is inherently evil, or the worst person to ever exist, or un-redeemable, or whatever else. I have been horrified that the rules of human decency never seemed to apply to him in his voters' eyes, and repulsed by the rhetoric of hatred towards others that fueled the fire in his campaign. It is and has been blatantly obvious to me that he appealed to a MASSIVE demographic of people -- a huge quantity of my closest friends, family -- for a plethora of reasons. I have friends that favored his economic policy proposals, friends that explicitly chose him for his choice of VP and the hope that he might appoint conservative SCOTUS justices, friends that supported his second amendment protections, friends (FAMILY) that felt/feel he was the evangelical choice and believe that he was appointed by God to overturn our current American political and cultural landscape, and many, many friends that have been disappointed in the government who wanted to "drain the swamp" and see some serious change. You can't pigeonhole Trump supporters -- he had major appeal to a wide variety of people and emboldened them to vote, and he won.

I understand WHY people voted for him. They didn't like Obamacare, or health insurance's skyrocketing costs. They didn't want to have their hard-earned money taken away by the government. They didn't trust or like any of the other candidates. (Or maybe they vehemently hated the other candidates.) They didn't like the way government has been run thus far. They were tired of the same political party controlling everything. They were ready for serious, dramatic change. They want government to stay out of their business operations. They don't like their tax dollars going to social services. They want to overturn Roe v Wade and make abortion illegal. Literally the reasons why go on and on and on, and that's why he won. They had a lot of reasons to vote for him.

The problem - A problem - with all this is that he also appealed to the angry, the hateful, the vicious. He was endorsed by hate crime organizations! With every disillusioned vote he got from someone just wanting to protect the unborn, he got another vote from someone who hates Muslims. For every vote gained because of his proposed tax cuts and job creation, he got another one from someone who favors segregation. I'm not saying it was a 1-1 ratio, but his appeal was broad. And undeniably, he appealed to racists, bigots, sexists, people who sexually assault others, people who commit hate crimes.And I don't understand how to reconcile it. It really felt like love fell short.

In the 24 hours-plus since he was elected our next president, Muslims are afraid to wear hijabs in public. People who may even look like they MIGHT be of a non-white ethnicity (or aren't straight, or male, or fill-in-the-blank) are getting screamed at, harassed, robbed, beaten, their cars vandalized, sexually assaulted, asked to sit at the back of the bus. By no means am I saying any of the rioting or burning done on the part of Clinton's supporters in various cities is right or excusable or justified -- but I can't ignore the countless reports of the ugly side of Trump's voter demographic that are committing hate acts because they erroneously think his becoming President suddenly justifies and permits inhuman behavior.

Believe me that I am not naive enough to think that if Clinton had become president, that these things wouldn't still be happening. I think this was the culmination of months - an entire election season - of pent-up aggression and hate that's being acted out, but I do think the (wrong) justification might not be there had she been elected. I think people of different ethnicities (and sexual orientation, and gender, and fill-in-the-blank) might feel safer had she been elected.I just don't understand how to reconcile where we are, in this broken broken state, and how to get out of it. 

I'm praying for our new president-elect. I hope he does an incredible job, surrounds himself with brilliant and moral and compassionate and wise advisers and takes good advice. I certainly hope God can redeem him as an individual and show us a modern-day biblical example of how he can change a man and make him godly. 

But I just don't know how to reconcile all this hate. My hope, as a white Christian cisgendered middle-class straight woman, looks a lot more hopeful than it does for a lot of people. It's a lot easier for me to access. My day-to-day life isn't dramatically impacted by a new president being elected. My resources haven't been taken away. I don't have to fear that I'll be deported, or separated from my children, or that my parents will be deported, or my husband, or my best friend. I have never had to go to Planned Parenthood to get a pap smear.  I have never had to spend a single night on the streets. I have never had to fend for myself without knowing that I have a loving, supportive family (TWO sets of families, including Drew's) that would be able and willing to take me in if I lost my income or got terminally ill or was in an accident that rendered me completely disabled. I didn't have to parent myself. It wasn't hard to find a lot of role models who looked like me, to look up to, growing up. I have never had to be afraid to worship publicly. I have never lived in a war-torn country and been absolutely desperate to get the hell out, dependent on the graciousness of another nation to take me in. My life looks a whole lot different than a lot of other Americans'. 

So, yes, I am absolutely hopeful and optimistic. I still believe with every essence of my being that love will win, but it's not so hard for me to believe that. I am praying nonstop that the violence will end, that the hate crimes will be squelched, that the hateful will be silenced. But my heart is broken. 

I mentioned yesterday that I've never felt so convicted in my life to actually do something -- donate, volunteer, make relationships, have conversations, stand up for others, pay attention to legislation and vote consistently. There are beautiful people in my circles who have introduced me to ways to make actionable change, locally. I don't want to throw my hands up and feel utterly powerless (even though that's my initial reaction, because I can ignore it).

My plea and my prayer is for God to reconcile all of this. To bring beauty out of these ashes. To give hope to the hopeless. To make sense of it all, because I just don't get it right now.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

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