Beware: there is a whole new host of dirty words hitting the American language this week.
Social media is exploding with an assault on everything majority; Trump and his evangelical followers are at the forefront of that battle right now. As a white, middle-class, evangelical American woman, I am certain I’m not allowed to breathe out loud, let alone have an actual opinion.
Never being one to follow the rules…
We are a house divided. This will come as no surprise for those of you that know us intimately; there could be no greater difference in personality than there is in this marriage. Where he is an engineer (Analytical, methodical, apathetic even), I am a counselor (Contemplative, empathetic, relational). As you might imagine, impasse occurs with alarming regularity. It was no different with our vote. He vehemently voted popular republican, I voted neither in good conscience and with a healthy understanding that my vote would not be heard.
Disbelief has been the golden thread throughout this election season for many, myself included. From the moment that it was announced that Trump was actually in the presidential race there was shock, confusion, and a sense of surreality. To be honest, I thought it was a joke, a publicity stunt for a new reality show maybe… Turns out we are waking from our deep sleep and torment is our new reality. Many of us were bombarded with a certain feeling of cynicism coupled with unmistakeable grief at the news that our new president elect was in fact Donald Trump.
The day after the election as I was driving my children to school my son made a comment about immigrants in America. Speaking the incomplete knowledge of a fourteen year old espousing the indoctrination of his youth culture, my only response was a caution toward his belief system: “You only believe that to be true because you are a white male, born and raised in the PacNW.” It’s not that what he said was wrong, right, or even the slightest bit disparaging; my counsel was just to be aware of where he gained that belief…
The same caution needs to be spoken during this time of trepidation in our country: religion, politics, behavior, and even science falls prey to subjectivity. Perceptions and perspectives are intricate compilations of multiple points of input, of story, and of experience.
So often we speak what we believe to be true without examining the history behind that belief.
In the wake of the announcement of the new president elect, white evangelicals have come under radical fire. Truthfully, I believe, the critique that the majority are facing is long overdue. That said, I fail to see how being contemptuous toward ANY people group is rationalized. Then again, that is said from the perspective of extreme introspection; from a mind who readily acknowledges that I have been influenced by experience, education, religion, ethnicity, majority even.
Can we expect, (or even demand), that grace, generosity, “okay-ness” with differences can be extended toward all groups? What if “they” as a people group have different ethics? In a perfect world, my opinion is in the affirmative; but, as we are more than aware, human depravity abounds. The age-old question comes to the forefront: what is the foundational expectation of behavior, morale, and narrative of our culture? Can we really maintain that Americans as a people group should create any sort of continuity within ourselves?
But isn’t that what creates a people group or culture itself? The willingness of a group to say yes to common beliefs, behaviors, and ways of being.
Perhaps the deeper question is not, “Who’s most wrong (i.e.: Trump)/Which group do we place blame on for this confusing state of affairs (i.e.: Evangelists)?” But rather, to which people group does our morale align with? Where do we resonate? How do we find confidence in our tribe, give space, meanwhile maintaining compassion for differences of belief? We are SCREAMING for attention (ahem…riots in Portland, anyone?!), taking (or at least trying to take) action for refugee populations, those in minority, and ultimately for ourselves; in our attempt to right our deeply engraved wrongs are we engaging in group think and creating the same rage narrative?
It’s worth the ask of the self. Why? Why do you believe what you do? How is blaming anyone possibly going to assuage the discomfort and fear that is felt?
Or don’t you know that your rage, your frustration, your own narrative is simply reflective of a few thousand years of decision making, of exposure….of culture? That had you been raised in another state, another family, within any number of seemingly inconsequential variables your entire perception of truth would be completely altered.
Maybe our new golden thread of Americanism can be the binding of a nation that recognizes that we have caused great harm, and that the redemption of our people is in our own acquiescence to humility and apology, in our ability to offer space for differentness…including our own. A lofty consideration, I know.
I am a white, evangelical, American woman. Is it ok that I am grieving too?