Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Foundation for My Hope for the Future

At noon on November 9, 2016, I felt as if I had been up all night crying.  My eyes burned.  My head ached. In reality, I didn’t cry all night.  I actually slept when I finally went to bed not long after midnight after a night of watching electoral results in the nastiest political contests that I had witnessed in my lifetime. I slept soundly only because I was emotionally exhausted by the weight of the entire experience of watching the 2016 election of a President of the United States of America.   I didn’t watch this process alone.  I watched it with paid political pundits who work for the national networks, and pseudo political pundits who wrote nasty comments on Facebook.  I engaged in texting with friends and family while we viewed together the ongoing drama that unfolded before our eyes.  At times during the evening, my husband and I exchanged knowing and understanding looks and words of the mutual shock and dismay we were experiencing while witnessing history in the making. Once it was apparent to us that the die had been cast in this particular election, we trudged off to bed, turned off the lights, held hands, and fell asleep.

The feelings that distressed me upon awakening this morning were those that accompany great loss.  When one awakes after sleeping a sleep filled with broken hearted dreams and a sense of overwhelming loss, one does not awake refreshed.  One awakes feeling as if they have slept through a long nightmare. 

Once I was awake and out of bed, as I walked from the bedroom to the front room, I desperately sought out my husband who was not sitting in his usual place in that gold chair near the window reading the morning news.  He was on the back deck with the dog.  I opened the door and said, “They say the sun will shine again, and I see that it is.”  He said, “Yes, it is shining,” as I kissed him good morning.  That kiss was followed by another before I opened the door a bit wider for him to come into the house.  Thankfully, I have this man by my side during all those days when life seems so very broken and not how we hoped it would be.

Many have written that they have experienced a deep sense of loss and grief today. I don’t think I will have the answers for all of the reasons why I feel so sad today for quite some time.  I only know that deep within my idealistic soul I honestly believed that our country was not one where a person who has spewed words of bigotry, hatred, and division would actually be elected as our president.

Throughout the campaign season, I have tried to read legitimate and reputable arguments on both sides of this great divide that split our country down the middle.  I made sure what I was reading could be supported by verifiable sources. 

I watched both political conventions in their entirety.  I listened to the speeches no matter how painful I found listening the rhetoric of hate that I heard from Republican Party to be.  I was horrified when I heard and saw attendees at the Republican National Convention scream in frenzy the words, “Lock her up.” “Lock her up.”  My only thoughts were, “My God, I am witnessing mob rule before my very eyes.”

 The personal idealism that I thought would sustain a reasonable political season was destroyed when I heard those many voices affirm that hoards Republican delegates who represented the folks back home who had sent them to select a candidate for the Republican Party really did not believe in our Constitutional right to be innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.  Yes, that was the day when over sixty years of political idealism was shattered for me. 

Still, I believed that our country would not elect a person to its highest office that attacked Muslims, Latinos, and women with demeaning words of distain.  Sadly, I was wrong.

If you voted for Trump, you undoubtedly have your own personal reasons.  You also have the right that this great country gave you to cast that vote.  Each person must vote his or her conscience.  I voted mine, and I will support your right to vote your conscience until my dying day.  Voting is a right and privilege.  I am grateful you and I both are able to exercise that right.

My roots in this country and in this democracy go back to long before the Revolutionary War.  I identify strongly with the identity that my grandfather gave me when I asked what we were when I was a young child.  “What is our heritage,” I asked.  He said, “We are damn Yankee rebels.”  I am proud of that heritage.

 I was raised to take a stand on the issues, to study both points of view, and to stand for my own beliefs.  That does not mean that I have always found myself backed by supporters.  That has never stopped me from using my voice.  I was also taught to stand on my own if I needed to for what I believe. 

I believe in this great democracy.  I believe in the goodness of the majority of the American people.  I believe that we should do all in our power to support the peaceful transition of power. I believe our democracy was built on fundamental rights that we as a people are to have a voice so that one person never is able to exert power and control over all branches of government.  Sadly, it appears to me that many do not really support that process in today’s political climate.  It seems to me they would rather see the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court all of one mind and with one power in control. 

President Obama said we are all on the same team, and he is right.  It isn’t about Democrats versus the Republicans when it comes to electing our leaders.  It never has been.  It is about all fighting for a strong democratic republic.  That is why I feel so diminished and dismissed when some seem to pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry you are disappointed because I know how much you wanted Hillary to win.”  Really?  That is what you think?  That is not how I feel at all.  I was not rooting for just Hillary like she was going to be elected homecoming queen or even president of the student body.  No, I was supported Hillary because she is a gifted, intelligent public servant whom I believed was the most qualified to lead our country through the coming four years. I believe she truly loves and believes in the strength of the principles upon which our democracy was founded.  I believe she was qualified to lead us.  I do not believe that her opponent is qualified to lead, nor do I believe that he appealed to that which speaks to best that is within us all. 

I will stand for a strong America no matter whom is President.

Please don’t think that this means that I will not speak when I see injustice, hate, division, and prejudice. Speaking against such things has always been the American way.  Supporting those who spew hate-filled ideologies has never been the American way. 

On this day after the election of 2016, I am encouraged by the words of my children.  They have stated they will continue to work for civil justice and equity.  My daughter has said she will throw her energy into working to support political causes in her local area.  My son and his wife will use their voices to teach history and social justice to their students. 

As a Christian, I have never understood the political views expressed by many professing Christians.  That does not mean that I am judging their views, I just don't understand or identify with the rational many have used to support the person that is our current President-elect of the United States.   I have never identified with the “religious right” politically. Many of my dearest friends do not believe as I do politically.  That does not change my political beliefs, nor does it change my faith, nor does it make me love them any less.  

Ultimately, I identify with the One whom reminds me that I am an exile living in this world. The One who called me to be His own is ultimately in control. I have never held on to my faith in times of grief, loss, and disappointment; instead, I have been held by my Sovereign God.  He is still driving the bus.  I am sad.  I am disappointed, but ultimately, I know I am held in His Grace by His Great Mercy no matter what the future may bring.  That is the foundation for my hope for the future.