Reflections with the air still thick with outrage, disbelief, and fear.
She’s Not Awake
As I write this, I’m dreading the conversation I’m about to have with my four year old daughter.
Oregon has vote-by-mail, so my partner and I filled out our ballots around our kitchen table. We talked with our eldest daughter about who we were voting for and why. She wanted to vote too, so she filled out a green construction paper with ovals and colored them in, like our ballots were. And then she wrapped it in an envelope and signed her name to the back. We walked as a family to the ballot drop-off site, and I got some pictures of our girls helping us vote for the first female presidential candidate. We came home and read together a book about superhero girls that night.
Today, I dread sharing the news with her. News that there’s still a barrier in America, a threshold that women are still denied to cross, and that for the next four years, she will see far less in common with the person holding the most visible role in the country and world than our family had hoped.
Today I dread the conversations friends have with their children. One friend shared that an Indian American family nearby woke to the news and their kid asked if it was safe to go to school today. What would be a juvenile question yesterday, easily dismissed, is a profoundly disconcerting one today that is not easily answered.
As the air is still thick with outrage and lament from the 2016 Elections in America, I awoke this morning with a hymn on my heart.
Out of the depths, O God, we call to you.
Wounds of the past remain, affecting all we do.
Facing our lives, we need your love so much.
Here in this community, heal us by your touch.
2016 has been a year of “the depths” for me as I lament that my Church and now my Country have both become ensnarled in a death grip. The politics of polarization and the human tendency towards compartmentalization has done far better for conservative agendas than progressive ones. We’ve been able to insulate ourselves from dissonance, find our tribes and swim only with them–and in doing so, we enable the very dehumanizing forces that now reign in both my church and country.
The Church and World are wounded by this driving apart of people in the Church and World to opposite ends of countries and communion tables, if they even know the other side is at the table and not just a caricature.
The second verse of Duck’s hymn speaks even more to me:
Out of the depths of fear, O God, we speak.
Breaking the silences, the searing truth we seek.
Safe among friends, our grief and rage we share.
Here in this community, hold us in your care.
Progressives in the Church and World have these wounds of the world uniquely set against us.
Progressives must cross thresholds and engage in hard conversations to keep the Church and World from regressing or allowing beliefs that will not stand the test of time to endure one more round. We haven’t had enough sustained relationships with folks on the other side–and I speak as a hypocrite who left the Bible Belt for the Pacific Northwest and moved from being in the minority culture to the majority. The echo chambers of theology and the relative worth of minorities do not naturally break open–they take persistent prodding and relationships that half the country doesn’t even want us to have.
We failed. But now we know we failed and we can ramp up our work of peace and justice with open-eyed awareness that progress and multiculturalism doesn’t just happen–it takes sustained work, and no matter how many steps forward are taken, we can always fall back.
In response to the November elections, missionary photojournalist Rev. Paul Jeffrey, who travels the world and sees the effects of toxic majority cultures, wrote on Facebook:
When Donald Trump comes for the Muslims, I am a Muslim.
When he comes for women, I am a woman.
When he comes for the Mexicans, soy Mexicano.
When he comes for the Jews, I am Jewish.
When he comes for the Palestinians, I am Palestinian.
When he comes for the refugees, I am a refugee.
When he comes for the journalists, I am a journalist.
When he comes for the environment, I am the trees and volcanoes.
May we continue the hard work of solidarity as the scope of prophetic ministry has become clearer.
May we bind our wounds from grief and rage we share, hold fast to those on the margins who see a country set against them, turn a mirror from the culture to our Church and ask if this is who we truly want to be enabling, and wake up again tomorrow ready and emboldened to share the searing truth we seek.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“If your generation votes to build a wall, I just want you to know my generation will be strong enough to tear it down.” Gwen Petty, age 11.
Better go and have a sad conversation over breakfast. A conversation about what it means to not get our way, about how no one should ever touch her body without her consent, not even our President, about how no one should hurt her preschool friends who have different colored skin, not even our President. Of how sad I am that role models for her life and early development will not be found in stories told about the highest office in the land.
A heavy morning ahead, and a heavy time of mourning for the country I thought I was helping to build for my daughter, but 2016 has shown it was not yet to be.