I understand that my demographic doesn’t necessarily help me in talking about this; a young, white, male, American citizen. My intention isn’t to add to the noise, but rather, put accurate thoughts and emotions behind the words and actions that seem to inevitably come across as hatred and betrayal. I’m asking everyone to lay those things aside. I hope you keep reading this. Please, please, keep reading this.
I don’t like to talk about the political system. I don’t like to talk about the government and I’m not going to in this post. Not just because I’m a democrat who grew up in a VERY southern family full of republicans, but because I’m not smart enough to understand it. When I voted for Obama four years ago I received a lot of anger (that word is important). From friends, schoolmates, an ex-girl friend or two, even family members. I’m not saying this as a way to receive pity from anyone — It’s more so that you know where I’m coming from. But, despite those words that were thrown my way, all I wanted was for my friends, family, anyone, and everyone, was to simply pray for the president. If you don’t pray or that’s not really your thing, then just simply show some encouragement. I’m not talking about following blindly, either. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for your beliefs. Because, in the end, that’s what this country is about. It’s what we were built on. But, in all things, practice love, patience and grace.
Let’s tackle these one at a time. They are some pretty hefty words. Love isn’t a new thing. It’s been around forever and always will be. Love is something we (myself included — I am addressing myself while writing this) are desperately missing. Love includes so many feelings in itself. A major one of these is respect. Without love and respect, there is absolutely no way we can repair what has happened in this country. With respect comes empathy. With empathy comes understanding. With understanding comes equality. With equality comes peace. We aren’t any different. None of us are different. We’re people with stories, and pain, and hope, and disappointment, and love in our hearts. Sure, a lot of this can be blamed on the media but the second we start pointing fingers, which is all we have been doing, there is no understanding.
Christians, we should understand this the best by now. We believe we were painted into this world as God’s signature on His creation. He loved us so much, He put himself into each and every one of us. From many comes the One, and from the One comes many. This isn’t an old idea. If you aren’t into the whole faith and spirituality thing, chances are you will still agree that we are all humans that are products of our environment and circumstances — some much better than others, and some much, much worse. Generalizing a group of people, any group of people, has not and never will solve a problem. It definitely doesn’t lead to understanding. Stereotyping on social media doesn’t show that we are ready to understand. It doesn’t show that we are ready to listen; to work this out; to be better because I think we would all agree that we are capable of so much more and that we want to be so much more.
It’s easy to hide our sense of betrayal, hurt, and just flat-out terror behind anger. I’ve talked about this before. It makes us feel empowered. No one wants to feel hurt or scared; especially when facing other people. You feel vulnerable. Vulnerability is, something I’m learning slowly, nothing to be afraid of. If nothing else, it shows someone that you don’t mean them harm. Anger, on the other hand, promotes just the opposite. If I were to scroll through Twitter, Facebook, reddit, or (God forbid) YouTube comments, it hurts. It hurts deeply. Then it makes me angry because, like I said, we don’t want to feel vulnerable. And it’s not just from one political party, either. It’s from both sides — even the ‘winning’ side. In the country we are living in now no one wins. No one walks away feeling better. All we do is promote hate and violence with our words. We are better than this. We have to be better than this.
Now, a little about patience. Patience is difficult because, well, there are several groups in the U.S. who have been plenty patient to receive this understanding. To the point where it makes me sick even typing that sentence. And, in one way or another, it still happens. *This next part is purely my opinion and observation* I don’t truly think there is a majority of people in America who’s soul intent is to hate this group or that group or show superiority over another. I love people. I truly do. No matter what skin color you are, what you identify yourself as, where you come from, or what you’ve done. And I am confident a majority of people, even those who voted for our new President, would side with me on that. That could be my naive thinking, which is fine. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this, honestly. Perhaps it’s to help my own conscience. I don’t know. But I do know that this idea has to start somewhere and by someone. This idea that we can move to a better and brighter future and no president, man or woman, is going to do that for us. It starts with us. It starts with love and understanding, then patience.
Now, about those who might not agree with me, who may genuinely have hate in their heart for X people and Y group. The thing with patience is that we have to show it to everyone — even if you may have never received it yourself and even in they don’t deserve it. Sometimes, it doesn’t take just one of us to be a bigger person — it takes all of us. I’m sure I’ll lose a lot of readers after that last sentence but if you’re still here, take a look at something that Paul says in Romans:
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not persecute them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as depends on all of you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written “Vengeance is mine says the Lord”. 20To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry; feed him. if he is thirsty; give him something to drink. By doing so, you will reap burning coals on his head. 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This way of thinking can truly change the game. Being the bigger person means doing things to help the very person who throws hurtful words and terribly misplaced anger in your exact direction. Being the bigger person means to to live peaceably with everyone — this takes every body. We all have to be the bigger person. We all have to be vulnerable. We all have to be willing to admit when we are wrong, forgive those who have done the worst of the worst to us, and move forward in a new light, a new mindset, and a new humanity. I know this all again sounds too naive, or just stupid, or that I grew up watching too many Disney movies. But grace is something that comes with patience and that is something that has been shown to me too many times and now it’s time I start showing it more myself.
Which brings us to that last word — grace. What is grace? Great question and I’m not sure that there is just a solid, general definition we can slap on it. Grace is when you fail a test and the teacher, instead of giving you the “F” you deserve, gives you an “A” for the whole course. Grace is when you say something mean to your mom, but instead of punishing you, she goes out and buys you ice cream. It’s this radical idea that you might have done something completely awful to me, but I am still going to do anything I can to help you because I know that life can be hard and I know that we all mess up and I know that we are all in this together. Grace is not repaying someone what they deserve but instead offering them compassion and intention and love. We do this with the hope that, one day, they may do the same for someone else when they don’t deserve it. And then that person will do the same. And then the next person, and the next. This alone can be what sets the world on fire instead of our own fires we light ourselves fueled by hate and malice. I know that this is nothing new and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here. It might be naive and stupid but it’s a hope I have for the country and the world, that we live in. Grace has to be shown to everyone. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. Unfriending people or posting ‘anonymously’ (I can’t believe that’s even a thing) is not and example of this. An example might be if someone is hurting, no matter who they are for what they have done to you or anyone, pick them up. Don’t tear them down. If someone is truly afraid for their safety in this country of ours after this election, please assure them they have nothing to be afraid of and that you will fight for their safety no matter their political affiliation. If someone is being arrogant and hateful about a group of people, maybe even someone you don’t completely agree with, defend them — because we are all people. If someone dishes out hate, repay them with love. If someone lashes out in agony and cries out for help, please be the one who will step out, be vulnerable, and comfort them.
I know that there has been a picture circling around the internet. It says something along the lines of, and I’m paraphrasing:
‘If you voted for Trump, explain to your Muslim, black, female, and LGBT friends why you hate them’
This only brings hate, confusion, fear, pain, and more fingers to pointed. No, we aren’t proving a point. No, we aren’t ‘standing up for ourselves’. It’s just words shrouded in arrogance and fear. And to the other side, we aren’t helping there either. Threatening people or calling them lazy or saying ‘Hillary was only winning initially because all of the republicans were getting off of work while the liberals were only sitting at home (implying they are lazy or have no job)’ doesn’t help. No point is being proven and nothing is being stood up for. Again, it’s just words covered in arrogance and fear. Grace doesn’t point fingers. Grace doesn’t hurt. Grace doesn’t shame others. It’s an act that we all have to participate in. It’s bigger than us.
Now, for a little bit about Trump. He could be the embodiment of everything horrible the world has ever seen. However, he could also be the best president this country has ever known. I am praying every day for the latter. At this point, I want to encourage all of us to join in prayer, in thought, or whatever you are comfortable with. As I said, this nation is a reflection of us. The people set the tone. That tone can be more division, lead by fires and prosecution and hate, or it can be love and understanding and patience and grace. Join me in the latter and be the change you want to be. I love you. I love America.
Please, if you need a friend or someone to talk to in all of this, I am begging you to reach out. I am available and I know people all over the country, and the world, who would love to reach out and talk to you. It takes every one of us because it is bigger than all of us.
Grace & Peace