I know so many people who voted for Trump. I believe your support of this man was wrong in a way that transcends partisanship, but for me and my heart, that’s not the end of our story. In all the ugliness that has been brought to the surface over the last several years, I met a diverse America that I possibly would have never felt called to meet with without such a stark contrast to the Christian love I felt called to embody. My political shift did not begin with Donald Trump, it began with Ferguson and the refugee crisis. Christ was doing something in me then that brought me to have compassion and lift up the humanity of people my political identity was seemingly moving me to “other.” Calling me to put country, party, religion even, over a shared and compassionate humanity. And to care about the policies that broke into the wholeness of others, no matter their race, country of origin, sexuality, ability, or which laws they may have broken. (Each of these communities have a Gospel story.)
This America, that I had to leave home, community, and church to meet, was more diverse than anything I had encountered in my youth. Yesterday, I saw that America literally dancing in the street. That joy is the invitation I’ve been longing for everyone I know to experience. And it is joy because for many years now, there has been collective grieving, stress, and anxiety, that for just a moment…felt lifted. I found it captured best in the Van Jones interview circulating yesterday. “If you’re Muslim in this country, you don’t have to worry if the President doesn’t want you here. If you’re an immigrant you don’t have to worry if the President is gonna be happier about having babies snatched away or send Dreamers back for no reason.” Through broken words he cried…”this is vindication for a lot of people.”
I want that loving awareness to be the invitation for our country to come together and heal. And this loving awareness is something that I will not compromise. I am stubborn to this regard.
We all need to lean in and commit ourselves to learning more about the systems that harm one another. Every one of us, has more to learn, and I believe as a follower of Christ, there is no loving mission I can commit myself more to than understanding my neighbor so that I may show respect, and kindness, and sensitivity to their human experience. That I would understand the way the world weighs heavily on them and that I would fight with my power and my privilege to lift that burden however I can. That is my Christian commitment to my life. That we carry each other’s burdens on the long and slow road towards justice and peace. That is the invitation Christ is offering each and every single one of us towards.
This does mean talking about politics and how it impacts people; especially marginalized people. A Christian does not have the privilege of staying out of that conversation if love for the whole world is our concern.
Our vote is one method. Prayer and service another. Understanding too. Committing time in our lives not just to Scripture that calls us to love, but to works on anti-racism from black women and indigenous peoples, anti-sexism from feminists, and to works that inform us of gender and sexuality in a world of a more revealed diversity. We all should commit to understanding our neighbors beyond our comfort zones and beyond the criticisms of our like-minded communities. And this includes me in my understanding of you. Too often, I fail at filtering how you may understand things through the lenses that I once held when, I, like you fought the ideas I hold today. I don’t want to seem like I know better than you, but I do want to express that in my own way I did the hard work of going through your beliefs to get to mine. I maybe haven’t done this work with you, but I’m not asking anyone to do anything I haven’t done myself. I have not arrived. I have much to learn. I have much to learn from you. May we share this commitment to understanding others. And may we fight against hatred, indifference, and the harm our ignorance causes the whole of America.
I am the American prototype. I am a straight, white, Christian, male. This doesn’t mean I’m evil, or a bad person, it just means I have the most to learn. These last few years I have done my best to lift up voices and perspectives and invite those like myself to consider beyond ourselves and our certitudes. I learned most by being near those most impacted by these last four years.
When I lived in Virginia, I confronted the ugly face of White Supremacy, I saw how embraced and empowered overt white supremacists felt by this President. I met a mother whose daughter, Heather Heyer, was killed by those men. She matters to me.
When I was on a march to confront that white supremacy, the President ruled against DACA recipients, I sat next to undocumented immigrants crying and fearful of their status in the only country they have ever known. They matter to me.
When I was on a bus to the White House I sat next to an elderly Muslim women. Confusingly, with a trembling voice she asked me, “I don’t understand, I am an American. This is my country. Why do they want to ban people like me? I pay taxes. I work hard. I don’t understand.” She matters to me.
At a music festival in Austin, TX, an artist from the stage announced that Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court. I saw a woman who had earrings that formed the words “Me too.” I complimented her earrings and asked how she was doing. She grabbed me and cried into my shoulder. She matters to me.
I’ve spent years showing up in spaces where black parents share stories of their children being murdered by law enforcement. I’ve been on the phone with black friends telling me they don’t think their white friends support them or care about them and their experience in this country. They matter to me.
I’ve listened to my LGBTQ+ friends. I’ve listened to their tears, and their concerns, for their right to simply exist in this country as policy efforts continue to try and strip away their rights and as Christians still refuse them in their ministries. They matter to me.
I’ve talked with my students who fear for their safety because someone with an assault weapon may show up on their campus.
They matter to me.
I do believe these people matter to you also, that is why I encourage you to really take time and listen to the joy dancing in the streets. Do not dismiss those happy tears to the deception of our media. When we know these people, and grieve in their grief and rejoice in their joy, we can vote for their America too and that is my encouragement. And that is how I understand the joy felt around the world. It is not the end of the road, but the beginning of one.
After all, this America that is rising up, if listened to, if supported and celebrated, is reflective of a Biblical promise: “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” -Revelation 7
You, dear reader, matter to me too. Today, I am sighing some relief and celebrating. Tomorrow, I continue to commit myself, my time, and my relationships to love, compassion, and understanding.
I won’t tolerate racism. I won’t tolerate sexism. I won’t tolerate anti-gayness. I won’t tolerate ableism. I won’t tolerate hate because I am fighting for a world of love. May we build a place for all of God’s people. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Would you hold me to that standard?
And may we be a beacon on a hill.
Grace & Peace