To say the last few months have been painful in our democracy would be an enormous understatement.
Many say we are a Nation divided.... You pick up your iPhone or turn on the television and you see and hear hate speech, protests, and division.
I understand why many say that we are fractured; but in my bones, I see a world that is searching for healing in so many areas. Please understand, I'm not sugar coating it, I can see our scars, and in no way am I trying to gloss over the deep divisions of our wounds.
I see with my heart a world full of hope and love.
In the same breath, I have to say what saddens me at my core are the social media posts that say something along the lines of:
"If you don't agree with me... I will unfriend or block you."
Those my fellow Pilgrims, are at the core some of the scariest words on the internet.
I wasn't a math or statistics major so bear with me. There were about 60 million on each side of the aisle that voted in this election. For the sake of argument, let's say 5 million on both sides or 10 million are absolutely unreachable. They are <insert every horrible label here>, just go for it--they
are not the best of us. Period. When these folks speak it's always hate speech. It is our duty to use our voice to condemn this discourse. Just today I learned that a restaurant that I have frequented (in Maryland) a white woman told a woman of color that she was happy that Trump won because he was, "making America white again." This woman is so fortunate that I wasn't there--I have no tolerance for such hideous behavior. In my view her words were hate speech.
I understand that many folks encounter the worst of us more than I do. I recognize and acknowledge that my experiences differ from many others. But in my soul, I believe that most of us see more good than bad, and it is equally important that we stand together to support the good. We each need to use our voice to stand as citizens and deplore all acts of violence and unrest. I completely respect the rights of individuals to protest, but not to vandalize or harm others. In the same way I would have absolutely stepped in and called the woman entering the restaurant for her use of hate speech.
If we now take the 110 million and toss in tens of millions who couldn't stomach either candidate and sat out the election. You will see that there are more good folks by sheer numbers. You, yes you, my fellow Pilgrims are fantastic people--because I see you every single day quietly moving among us. Doing the good work that makes the world a better place.
And that my friends is who I want to talk to.... The 110 million or so among us. So before you delete everyone on your feed and dump your book club neighbors because of their "wrong" campaign yard signs, let's settle in for a little chat...
On election night my phone was on FIRE. I received so many calls and text messages that said:
"HOW DID YOU KNOW?!!"
Because for the better part of a year... I told folks, Donald Trump would win.
I WOULD NEVER vote for him, but I knew he was going to win.
Keep in mind this is way back in Iowa and New Hampshire, before wiki-leaks, before the first FBI investigation.
But, I have tons of normal, (non-racist, not homophobic, you get the idea) exceptional humans, that I love that will/did vote for him.
AND I still love them on November 9th.
The faces that heard my prediction were always fanstastic: My friends on the left would have a nervous laugh and say, "Dear Lord I hope not" and they aren't pray-ers. Still others told me I was "CRAZY...." but the majority of people thought I was just wrong.
One of my dear friends in California, was at a fancy book launch the Saturday before the election. When conversation turned to the election, Bob brazenly told his room full of liberal friends:
"I know this woman who grew up in DC and she knows that Trump will win."
Bob told me there were audible gasps--I wish I had been there. I would love to have talked them thorough it with my liberal lens.
Now mind you, Bob is almost 70 (but you would guess he was 50), and the party was for the book launch of a man's account of a highly decorated Pearl Harbor survivor. You can imagine a room filled with highly educated folks; consuming alcohol in liberal California. They didn't like it--at all.
You see for months I read articles, talked to folks, watched rallies, and listened... When I did, I heard the arguments that resonated. Did I agree with all of the arguments- Goodness NO. But, I understood why they resonated.
To all of my fellow citizens who were blindsided, I ask you with love in my heart, this one question.
Who are your friends?
Let me explain.
In order to pay for college I worked in a hotel at the front desk, but nearly all of my college was payed for by being a waitress and a bartender. I studied classical rhetoric--which means this post is actually what I majored. The "Art" of a well constructed argument. To this day, bartending was the most extraordinary job I have ever had. I never worked longer or harder than the years I went to school and tended to oodles of adult beverages. I worked with people from all spectrum of education. There were college educated school teachers who needed to waitress to pay rent; I worked with Ivy league frat boys who worked for beer money, working along side immigrants, who were dishwashers, or prep-cooks who spoke little or no English, the head chef who had never finished high school. I have never met people with a more dedicated work ethic than the individuals I worked with in the service industry.
My boss in the restaurant was Cynthia, she was the head bartender and was doing graduate work. I was 19, Cyn was 29 and didn't like me. I was everything she wasn't, I was (then) Republican, wore a ton of pink, green and pearls. I was religious, the goody-two-shoes girl of privilege. Cynthia's life was very different and she didn't think we had anything in common. Cyn had lived in the world--I hadn't. One morning she came in and while we were setting up the bar, she said the funniest thing ever.
"Kathryn, I read an article that said the key to happiness is to develop friendships with someone you have nothing in common with...That's you!"
I remember nervously laughing, but also being ever so excited. Cynthia is/was unbelievably cool, poised, crazy smart, and beautiful. Without Cyn, I never would have married Jeff; she got us together. Cyn was with Jeff when he selected and bought my engagement ring. My friendship with Cynthia, forged at 19 is one of my greatest life lessons. I learn more about the world from folks I think I have nothing in common with than with the people I do...
If you want to have a full rich life you need deep close friendships with folks you think that you have nothing in common. That means folks who have lived in different parts of the country or world; who don't look like you, who don't vote like you, and don't worship like you. I can promise you no matter where you live--these folks are among you!
Now I can hear my friends on the left screaming at me, "our life is diverse!"
BUT Kathryn I have friends from all parts of the world.
I say this with love... If you were at all surprised by this election, than a big fat NOPE...
Your world is not diverse. You may be one of the greatest examples of multiculturalism, but not true diversity.
Diversity means ALL ideas. Can you sit in a room with a wealth of divergent ideas and leave that room with every spirit intact--not just yours. AND not want to verbally kill anyone.
You also may want to ask all your friends what the definition of diversity is... and start finding some friends who have a different definition than you!
I can also hear many of you yelling at your screens telling me... Well in two weeks, I will be spending Thanksgiving with whole parts of my family that don't see the world as I do...
News flash... not the same.
We all have families.
And in each and every one of them we have that one relative that is filled with CRAZY.
Everyone has a relative that plucks their nerves. But, we all have an understanding that we are there to eat Aunt Betty's (I don't have an Aunt Betty) delicious apple pie and not discuss (capital punishment, gun rights, terrorism, climate change... you get the idea.) with Uncle Bradley (I don't have a Bradley either). You love Uncle Bradley because every year after dinner he still can make your kids belly laugh with his silly jokes, toss the football around the backyard, or pour you the best 25 yr old scotch. But deep in your heart you look past your disagreements with Uncle Bradley because he is yours... and he is family.
For many of us we can look past a great deal for the beauty of family. We don't have to agree, we just need to tolerate for the sake of lovely Aunt Betty. We love Aunt Betty, far more than we are willing to have a heated discussion. However, for some of us it's even deeper; we will clearly say to Uncle Bradley we won't discuss certain topics because our views are too divergent. Then sadly for some, our Uncle Bradley may be part of the 10 million that isn't the best part of our country/world. And knowing that in our broken hearts, we don't even go to the family dinner or allow him in our homes. For those Pilgrims, my heart breaks for you and your entire family. That such hate lives so close to your door. Please understand in your firm stance know this--you are setting a great example for all that know you and your family. You are standing against hate in all it's forms and will not allow it in your presence; or in the lives of your loved ones. When you make this decision, feel peaceful in choosing light over darkness.
The real question, is how often do you sit across the table from someone that you LOVE that has a definition of diversity that differs from yours, or more bluntly, they just see the world with a different lens.
Which leads me back to the election.
We talk with the Beauties about politics all the time. The children had to watch portions of the debates. We shared with them that we would vote for Hillary and why. We also shared with them individuals we suspected would vote differently, that would agree with Mr. Trump.
My Beauties eyes got really BIG. Because they LOVE these members of our tribe.
On every issue in this election. If you can peel the layer back of the vitriol and look at the argument: Illegal immigration, health care, abortion, defense, ISIS, budget, jobs..... And you then sit down and try to understand the other person's perspective you will find a kernel where you will find common ground. Embrace it.
We must stand up against hate, but we must also find paths to connect. Neither side can just block and ignore 60 million people, just because they voted the opposite way...
What I can tell you is that for every topic you passionately disagree, you can find three you can agree on. And when you focus on the three you agree on, it will make it a whole lot easier to then talk about the one you don't.
As a Catholic, I face these issues frequently. The divisions in the Catholic Church have some enormous gulfs. There is a lot to disagree about; the role of women, divorce and remarriage, married priests, LGBT issues, the future of our religious orders, the role of the pope, etc.
BUT... Every time I walk though the doors of the Catholic Church I enter, I don't look at the people surrounding me and look for people I agree or disagree with--No, I join my hand with theirs; pray with and for them as they do for me. I give thanks that as a community of believers we are there, the broken and more broken, for spiritual nourishment and grace.
As we move forward this season, the season in all our faith traditions that is focused on love and light; m
y prayer for all of us is we, the best of the world continue to share the abundant love of the Divine.
And finally, I will share with you the prayer I created for our family:
We pray for our country, her allies and enemies. We pray for all our elected leaders that they may find wisdom and common ground. We pray for peace. We pray for wisdom; to open our ears to listen and not to judge; to open our eyes to see truth in all its forms. We ask that our eyes never close, or look away from hate, violence, or evil. We pray to use our voices to spread faith, hope and love. We pray when called to speak; that our voices are clear when we speak against hate, violence and division. We pray that we always walk in justice for all. We pray, that we use our hands to build and not destroy; to hold, comfort and to heal. We pray that we see the face of the Divine in others and that they see the Divine in us. Amen.
To each and everyone of you... The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you today and always. Which means more simply:
Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal