With thanks to John Pavlovitz, Aaron Sorkin, Bill Preston, and Ted Logan, who have the words that I have been struggling to find…
I have witnessed many thing things, but nothing as bodacious as what is happening now. I can’t find anything that explains the lack of common sense and rejection of reason, logic, and science from many very smart, but obviously gullible people. Nothing completely accounts for them instantly embracing the most nonsensical of conspiracies. Nothing truly prepared me for the explosion, in words and deeds, of racism. Nothing connects the dots between their past goodness and their present ugliness.
Did I fail to pass along the values and virtues that are most important to me? Did I not know them well enough to understand what is important to them?
We’re not just being pulled apart along political lines, but the fragile, time-woven fabric of our most intimate connections with people are being torn in two right now. Families, life-long friendships, faith communities, and social circles that survived every previous assault from within and without may not survive this presidency.
And the worst part is, the election results won’t fix this. There will be more silent disconnections, more aborted family gatherings, and cold silences with our neighbors.
I imagine some relationships will survive beyond this November – if we invest in them, if we keep listening, if we are willing participants in mutual understanding- but others will not, and that’s probably necessary. Maybe we’ve simply seen too much about the deepest contents of people’s hearts to ever feel safety in their presence again. Maybe we’ll never feel like they are home for us anymore.
Either way, we need to name and reckon with this very specific grieving: the accumulating losses of people we love who are still here, the death of our relationships.
It’s a national tragedy.
All the research, data, books, polls, and think pieces don’t fully explain how once rational, otherwise decent, educated people are fully taking leave of their senses – people I may never feel close to again.
It’s one thing to be a good-hearted but flawed human being who sometimes says something stupid, occasionally has an error in judgment, or simply gets it wrong. Most of us fall under that category. We’re not any kind of evil, we’re just imperfect, emotional people, so we fail and fall – sometimes slightly and sometimes spectacularly.
It’s something else entirely to be an inherently malevolent person; to be incapable of empathy, defiantly unwilling to admit mistakes; to wake up everyday willing to harm others to get what you want and feeling no remorse for it. Because the ones you hurt do not deserve your empathy or your remorse.
I respect people who care about others as they care about themselves; who can humble themselves for the greater good of all; who are filled with compassion; who are willing to listen to different viewpoints; capable of evolving; and both willing and able to admit their mistakes. I respect people who love deeply, mourn greatly, give fully, who see others as more important than themselves.
I’m tired of it, year after year after year, having to choose between the lessor of “who cares.” I’m tired of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. I’m tired of setting the bar so low that I can hardly look at it.
Kindness, respect, responsibility for all. Take the high road, I’m tired of traveling the low road. Let’s lift each other up, not just those who look and/or think like us.
I call it integrity.
This is How I Be.
And so it goes…