Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016 Election

I know the last thing we need is another voice in the madness, but writing is part of how I cope. Like many of you, I need some coping today.

I did not vote for Trump. I did not vote for Clinton. I voted for McMullin, a write-in candidate. His platforms and ideals best matched my own. His campaign did not personally assault me or those I love. I knew some would see it as "throwing away" my vote. But I couldn't in good conscience vote for someone who was untrustworthy, deceptive, openly racist, misogynistic, or who did not value me as a Christian.  Moreover, I'm pretty fed up with the division in our country, and I used my vote to express that the best way I knew how.

I knew McMullin would not win. That wasn't really the point. Knowing this, I wasn't sure who to "root" for last night. When I first looked at the results, they were pretty even. Then Trump took a slight lead and for a moment, I was excited. I usually identify as Republican so it felt natural to lean this direction. When I woke up this morning to find that Trump was our new president, I felt uneasy. I don't trust him. I'm not convinced he really holds any of the values that he claims to--regarding the sanctity of life and religious freedoms. I know that I have friends and people I care about who will be afraid, who will be upset, who will feel personally attacked by not only Trump, but by the country as a whole who chose to support him despite his views on these people groups.

I logged into Facebook, knowing it would be bad. What I wasn't fully expecting was the heartbreak and fear that so many are feeling. They literally feel that we (the country) have invalidated their existence by choosing Trump. They are scared of what this means for their families and their children. Being an extremely empathetic person, this is haunting me today. I have cried for others more than once.

I sat in a college dorm common area filled with passionately liberal students in 2004, when Bush was elected for a second term. They were mad, sure. They were disappointed. They proclaimed that it was BS. But they weren't crying. They weren't shaking with fear. They weren't consoling each other. It wasn't like this. This year is very different, in so many ways.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most politically-minded person. I loosely keep up with the news, but even that is corrupt and biased, and I read candidate websites and take assessments and review charts to see the basics of what each party stands for. I've never been far right or left. I have voted both ways in the past. And that is a really strange place to be, emotionally, this year.

My Christian faith is my most important identity. I'm not happy with how our country has been moving away from this. And I'm not talking about gay marriage or even abortion. I'm talking about removing the right to practice our Christian faith freely. The Democratic party seems to think that separation of church and state means keep church out of the government (while the government continues to take over more and more), but it was created to keep the government out of our churches. Religious liberty does not mean that we are free FROM religion, but that we are free to HAVE religion. Lately it seems like that is only true if you are any religion other than Christian.

I feared that another term or two of a liberal president would erode our Christian freedoms even more. My little boys may not be able to pray at school. They may go through life being told they aren't allowed to talk about Jesus anywhere but at church. They may be told by educators that their belief in creation is false and ridiculous.

This has already started. I'm not being crazy here. I'm living it already.

I work at a state university. I work in a liberal arts program, so naturally--the professors around me and many of my students are liberal-minded. I work within the Philosophy and Religious Studies departments. The majority of what they discuss not only in their classes but in their free time is religion. But if I were to express my belief in Jesus as God, I would be "oppressing" them. That would not be allowed. And I'm not talking about trying to convert anyone. I'm just talking about sharing life experiences and intellectual thought. That's what we celebrate here, after all. But I was encouraged to remove a Bible verse from my wall. It wasn't even a controversial verse! Prov 3:5 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart. That's it. And there was concern that it might ostracize some students. Meanwhile, others are welcome to share their diverse values and beliefs and it's not a problem. Again, it's celebrated. 

There are issues here that go beyond politics. I get that. The Church needs to be better about loving others, teaching the Gospel (which is actually the most wonderfully accepting and loving thing there ever has been and ever will be, but you wouldn't know it the way some Christians operate!), and serving the lost and hurting. We wouldn't need so many social programs if we Christians did our job and took care of the "least of these" as Jesus commanded. So, trust me, I know. There are problems here with us that need to be addressed too.

But I was scared that there wouldn't be a chance. There wouldn't be any chance that those conversations could ever start, if we keep limiting the freedoms of Christians, putting them in boxes, and telling the world that they hate you and don't accept you.

But is Donald Trump the one to start this movement? I sincerely doubt it. He hasn't shown a whole lot of love thus far.

And I do love people. Your lives matter. Black lives matter. I believe that. And while I'm not perfect and I have biases that sometimes come out, even subconsciously, I yearn for you to feel safe and accepted and to have opportunity in our country. I really do. Women matter. We aren't just objects that men with power should be allowed to take advantage of as they see fit. We should be paid equally. Crimes against women should be taken seriously. Sexual crime should be taken seriously. No one deserves to be abused or raped or mistreated in any way.

I believe we have been operating under a broken system. And I like to think that the majority of those who voted for Trump did so because they want to see that system fixed in some way. They are eager for change. Just as we were eager for change when Obama was first elected. We still haven't found all the answers, so maybe this other party can do it. But we need a whole lot more than policy reform and shifting around funding to different areas and programs. We need a change of HEART, America!

I think everyone was fighting for what's most important to them. I hope that most of the Trump votes were not based on racism and sexism and other types of hate and discrimination, but were based on wanting more opportunities for the working class and wanting to try something, anything, to work toward a better system.

And I hope that those who are terrified and heartbroken right now are overreacting. Not because I want to invalidate anyone's feelings. I just hope that all of your worst fears are not going to come to fruition.

And maybe somewhere down the road, we can have a better option. An option that actually stands a chance against the same ol, same ol'. And in the meantime, I hope we all learn to love a little better. Raise your kids right. Take care of your neighbors, and love them as you love yourself. And if you're a Christian -- let's show the world what that REALLY means, and not what they think it means. Please.

I pray that we all find some solace and comfort tonight. And I hope some good can come from all this mess.

Love to you ALL!
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