I haven't been around for a while. It's funny, I've had such an urge to write so many times but at the end, my feelings have been so overwhelming that I couldn't risk now having the words. I don't think I have ever felt so disillusioned.
I'm Canadian but unfortunately, we live in such close proximity to the U.S. that while we couldn't actually vote in the election (and many of us wish beyond anything that we could have had some influence on what happened), we were flooded with it and the negativity and the hostility and the anger have definitely overflowed into our world. Honestly, it has made me really struggle with quite a few things and really do some rethinking who I am and what matters.
I think the hardest thing for me is the fact that much of the American church could claim Trump as the "Christian candidate." It makes me so sad and confused and angry and feel so lost. How on earth could anyone read the words of Jesus and come away believing that a man who espouses racist, misogynist and hateful opinions pretty much every time he opens his mouth be the right choice? All I can think of are the mothers and children stuck in refugee camps, facing the dropping of barrel bombs or squeezing their children into filthy boats built for 150 with 1500 crammed on board. How can anyone see that as anything other that being in need? How can anyone who claims Jesus truly believe that their own worries (which statistically are completely misplaced) are more important than the safety of other people's children? I have been called a "snowflake" and a "liberal" (as if that is the worst thing one can be) and accused of being naive and stupid and pathetic because I have compassion and am trying to live with integrity. There are several people from church (people who I suspected I probably wouldn't agree with on everything but people I could certainly have a warm conversation with) posting hate speech, anti-immigrant rhetoric and, worse, anti LGBTQ material that is beyond hateful. I have always struggled with feeling like an outsider and now, knowing that at least some of the people around me actually hold these views, I find it hard to sit in church. I want church to be a place where I feel surrounded by people who are committed to following Jesus and yet, I'm afraid that my very attempt to follow Jesus will be what will get me excluded. I'm in that weird neverland - I believe in a fairly orthodox theology and yet, I also believe that love has to be given more weight than anything else and that fairness and justice must be our goal. I'm on the Mission committee at church and when the issue of our support for Samaritan's Purse came up, I really faced a dilemma - do I "out" myself as a "liberal" (I'm generally fairly quiet at church - sometimes I am pretty "out" on Facebook but I still hold back a fair bit) or do I go along with something that just feels so wrong? (In case you a wondering, I came up with a solution that worked for me - I emailed our pastor and asked not to participate in that vote, explaining my view but that I also understood that my feelings may not represent those of the majority of the congregation and he surprisingly told me that he suspected that there were probably many more that held my view than I realised and he worked things out so that we shifted our support to a less offensive organization).
It's really left me in a "Where do I go from here?" frame of mind. Do I shut up and listen to all of those on Facebook complaining of how sick they are of the "politics" (although when it comes to injustice, I think it goes far beyond politics and I'm sorry if justice and human rights are an inconvenience to you)? Do I speak up and call people on their hatred and know that I am going to face hostility and disdain all the time? Do I hide out with my peeps who don't challenge me at all and just stay out of it all? I've tried a bit of each and nothing feels quite right.
I think, at this point, all that I can do is try to live with integrity. I will be respectful of those who disagree and not call names, insult or deliberately antagonize. I won't post jokes or really nasty or derogatory comments. I will call racism and bias for what it is and, most of all, I will strive to stand beside those who are being hurt and/or excluded. I will speak truth and I will speak it with confidence but I will also realize that there are some issues that are about justice and others that are about opinion and I will try to maintain that perspective. I will also pray and pray and pray - pray that somehow, everyone regains the understanding that these "issues" that we are discussing are people's realities and regardless of our opinions, we need to keep the dignity, safety and human rights of all at the forefront of our discussions.
I really hope that these first few weeks are either an aberration and the result of inexperience and lack of judgement but that will change. I suspect, though, that the best that I can hope for is an awakening of the passion for justice, the craving for mercy and the humility that we are all called to.