To those I love, from a place of pain
I wrote this a few days after the election and never shared it. I share it now. I am still wounded, but on the way to healing. Silence is no longer acceptable. I will speak even at the risk of offending, upsetting, or putting foot in mouth. I will speak even though I doubt my worth, ability, and the like. And, I will act. I will act in love.
I don't have a well-formulated response to the events unfolding in our country. Part of me hesitates to write anything at all. The last thing I want to do is add to the fear, misunderstanding, negativity, and hopelessness that surrounds us. But, I can be silent no longer. I will write how I feel and I will ask that you extend me grace as I try to explain my pain and devastation over the results of this election.
It horrifies me that almost half of America voted for a person who threatened to deport my Muslim brothers and sisters, who received the endorsement of and then was celebrated by the KKK (whom he has not renounced), who bragged about sexually assaulting women and then dismissed it as locker room banter, who plans to build a wall around America and who called hispanics rapists, who mocked POWs and a Gold Star family, and who will, almost assuredly, seek to take away civil rights from the LGBTQ community. These are not political differences. These are matters of moral conviction. The threats made by Donald Trump and the words spoken by Donald Trump are antithetical to my Christian identity. In the face of that, I cannot stay silent.
The election of Donald Trump is an affirmation of a candidate that created space for and incited the very worst in humanity. And, it sent a message that appears to have been received as follows: you and your kind are not welcome in my America. If you feel that's a drastic conclusion to draw, I beg you to look out and really try to meet people where they are hurting. Please, try to understand where this despair and fear is coming from. It is coming from the marginalized. It is coming from the vulnerable among us. It is a legitimate and appropriate response to the climate of fear and hate that Donald Trump's campaign bred and that his election has unleashed.
Approximately 81% percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump. I am stunned. I am afraid. I am incredibly angry. Where I lack the words to speak to this, Omid Safi voices the issue loud and clear:
"I don’t think it is my job to tell people of other faiths how to understand their own faith. But I know a thing or two about Jesus. I have sat at his feet, and seen his love animate the hearts of people who for centuries have been brutalized, traumatized, and beaten down. I know something about the Jesus who says that you can’t be right with God until you are right with the least of God’s children. So would someone tell me how in God’s name could 81 percent of white evangelicals walk into a voting booth and vote for this man who time and again belittled and mocked and frightened and threatened the most vulnerable of God’s children?"
It devastates me to know that I have family and friends who voted for Donald Trump. Honestly, I don't know how to handle this information. I don't know where to put these feelings. I am called to love, yes. But, love doesn't ask me to be silent. Love doesn't require civility. Love doesn't demand that I make nice. Love requires that I act. Love requires that I speak out and speak up. I don't believe that everyone who voted for Trump voted out of hatred for others, out of racism, or xenophobia, or homophobia or sexism or a general lack of concern for human dignity. I know a few Trump supporters well enough to know that isn't the case. I know it. What I am saying is probably hurtful to you. I am not saying it to hurt you. I am saying it because I am hurting. Those I love are hurting and are feeling threatened. And, I believe they have good reason to be. Please, help to protect the most vulnerable. Pray for them. Speak up for them. Act for them. Do not be silent in the face of suffering. Do not discount it. Do not ignore it. Listen and hear. If this isn't why you voted for Trump, than demand that it stop. Demand better. I beg you.
The past few days, I have cried. I have prayed. I have raged. At times, I have done all at once. I am afraid. But, I know that how I process this fear and react to this fear is critical. I refuse to lose hope. I refuse to be satisfied. I refuse to turn away or to be silent because of the risk that I will offend those with power as I work for those without it. The risk is worth it.
To my black brothers and sisters - I am with you. I will never understand what it's like to be black in this country and I cannot begin to feel what you must feel in the face of what has happened this week (hell, what has happened since the very beginnings of this country). But, I am with you. I will do my best to listen to you. To try and see you. To be better, to do better and to demand better.
To my Muslim brothers and sisters - I am with you. I will never understand what it's like to be Muslim in this country and I cannot begin to feel what you must feel living in this country. But, I am with you. I will do my best to listen to you. To try and see you. To be better, to do better and to demand better.
To my brothers and sisters who are undocumented, transgendered, differently abled, immigrants, queer, poor, female, oppressed and marginalized - I am with you. I am with you. I am with you.
Last, but not least, to my brothers and sisters who supported Trump - I am with you too. I recognize your humanity. I seek to understand my fault in your situation. I have overlooked you. I have dismissed you. I have been so angry at you that I could not recognize our brotherhood and sisterhood. But, I am with you too.
I am devastated. And, I am in mourning. But, soon enough, I will get to work. I will not give up hope. I will not not stop fighting. I must be better, do better and demand better.
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