Saturday, September 12, 2020

This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land

Is it possible to confidently assert a belief or opinion these days based solely on merit alone or do we only know how to communicate and promote our position by demoting another’s. All I seem to be witnessing these days is the latter. But I don’t feel the need to unfriend on facebook or unfollow on Instagram. I do not subscribe to the cancel culture narrative and am proud to say so. Frankly, many of you are providing hours of entertainment and fodder for the blog. I am going to boldly make a claim here and open myself up to ridicule and discord. I truly do not care what you believe or where you cast your vote. I have my guy and you have yours and I don’t need validation, but if you need to elevate your position by tearing down mine, I’m pretty sure you don’t have a leg to stand on. Maybe shift your focus and tell me why I SHOULD consider your candidate. If you cannot do that, I’m afraid I have no interest in your politics. My posts are usually quite free of this commentary, but honestly, I do feel that we are all being called to speak our truth and though I find myself raging on the inside sometimes, now is not the time for silence. So the challenge then becomes, how do I share my truth in grace and build my platform on conviction and solid research, rather than poignant attacks and an incessant need to be heard or worse...liked?

So here is my truth, asserted without attacking the other side or the current face of its party. (Insert politics here - feel free to jump to paragraph 4 if need be). I’m not a huge fan of Biden simply because I don’t feel his policies align with my ideals in many ways. I also don’t believe he is strong enough in the broken places. I am also not a huge fan of Trump and I do not at all support his communication skills in the public forum. And no, he is not a good example for my children, and so it is a very good thing that it is not his job to raise my children. That is my job! We elect a President to be a political figure, not a father figure. I don’t look to my political leaders to guide my children. I look to them to make decisions for the greater good and realize that sometimes they get it wrong. I direct my children to look to Jesus as an example and to their parents and can you believe, sometimes we aren’t a great example either, but do you know what we DO model? We model grace as often as possible. We model how to construct an apology and mean it. We model kindness and common sense. We fail, believe me, but we strive to get it right for their sake. We teach our children that our political leaders are finite and human and they fail just like the rest of us. We teach them to be free thinkers, to explore all options with an open mind and heart, to learn from others and stand up for their convictions, to speak up when necessary AFTER they have listened. We teach them there are always two sides to a story, different angles from which to see the same object or idea, and that compassion and understanding are at the heart of every good debate.

I will be the first to acknowledge there is no great option this time around, but I am not choosing a soul mate. I am charged with selecting a candidate who aligns most closely with my ideas, policies and economic beliefs. I would love for my candidate to practice a bit of humility and compassion (publicly anyway - I’m not privy to his private life and so, cannot speak to that), but I’m not holding my breath. I can say that confidently for two reasons. One, I don’t look to my President as a moral compass or best friend. I look to him to further a political agenda, as he was elected to do. Second, I have no problem admitting the failures of my candidate because I realize he is human as are all of us and I, personally do not have to answer for his character. It’s a fascinating concept, isn’t it? So why do we hold political leaders to a higher standard than ourselves? We long for them to speak kindly and graciously, apologizing for weakness and flaws and yet, many of us are unable to do the same. We don’t begin our debates with admissions of our own shortcomings. If we did, we would see that humility has the ability to set the stage for a level playing field. Do I create defensiveness and divisiveness in my communications or am I willing to concede that I don’t know it all? If I allow room for improvement, others will be more inclined to engage in a respectful discussion with me. Let the conversation begin with, change my mind.

I’ve heard the terms, “Joe Biden’s America” and “Donald Trump’s America” thrown around and used as ammunition to defend a particular political viewpoint on more than one occasion. This America does not belong to one man. If you believe it does, you are giving way too much power to one man and I am terrified for you. This America is OUR America...mine and yours. Remember, “This land is my land. This land is your land...” Wait, are we still allowed to sing that in schools? Not sure, but I digress. America is ours. Do with it what you will, but please, for the sake of all of us, stop veiling your fear and insecurity by assigning blame to one person. He is not that powerful and I am not that stupid. Also, if I look at your feed and all I see are re-tweets, memes and shares of someone else’s thoughts, I am even more scared for you. Original thoughts are highly encouraged in my world. I’m simply not sure many of us have those anymore. I implore you, log off and go have an actual conversation. You might actually be enlightened, rather than further frustrated.

Right, left, middle, upside down or right-side up, sadly, I believe the intentions on both sides are good. The actual ideals and intended results of the policies we support are inherently virtuous and defensible. And comically, the underlying values are often the same on both sides. Unfortunately, what actually manifests when these policies are enacted is not at all what we seek. They do little to accomplish the values and results we intend and for which we hope. The result is disillusionment and frustration. And that, my friends, happens in life as much as it does in politics. All the more reason to consider alternate ideas and continue the conversation.

Copied from a friend’s feed: “The reason conservative voters still support Trump is because they ARE him. They have the same morals, prejudices, hatreds, and insecurities that Trump has. Trump has given them permission to come out in the open and be who they really are. And, it’s ugly.” This is what I believe to be the most detrimental problem we are facing as a nation today. Who I am, really am, is ugly. Goodness, I better work on that right away! Here’s a thought. See if you can make a case for your candidate without attacking the other side. If you can’t, you’ve got a big problem. We’ve been charged with being the change we want to see in America, correct? Is the change you want to see to make sure you are ready at the helm to call out every misspoken word and every dip in the numbers. Is the change you want to see to assign blame, find fault, and point fingers every time a candidate stumbles over his or her words? Is that it, because that is exactly what I am seeing modeled on both sides. No candidate is perfect and do you know why? Because they are human, like you and I. Interesting concept, isn’t it? And again I say, if you cannot confidently assert your position without attacking the other side, you might be in a bit of a predicament and I strongly urge you to alter your approach.

I’m sharing this next part because I believe there is much to learn from the “other side” and what a hypocrite I would be if I discounted every idea they espoused. I love this musing from a former President and would be remiss to not share.

“Maybe the critics are right. Maybe there's no escaping our great political divide...Or maybe the trivialization of politics has reached a point of no return, so that most people see it as just one more diversion, a sport, with politicians our paunch-bellied gladiators and those who bother to pay attention just fans on the sidelines: We paint our faces red or blue and cheer our side and boo their side, and if it takes a late hit or cheap shot to beat the other team, so be it, for winning is all that matters.

But I don't think so. They are out there, I think to myself, those ordinary citizens who have grown up in the midst of all the political and cultural battles, but who have found a way-in their own lives, at least- to make peace with their neighbors, and themselves.

...I imagine they are waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point. They don't always understand the arguments between right and left, conservative and liberal, but they recognize the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting. They are out there, waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

― Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

Spot on, Mr. Obama. If Republicans and Democrats could just get out of the way, the people might actually get the politics they so desire.

A final thought. Matthew 7:2 reminds us, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” I sincerely hope you do NOT have someone ready to call you out every time you stumble. I hope you do NOT get cancelled for an error in judgment, a poor choice, or a flawed belief. I hope you find grace and forgiveness for your shortcomings and not judgment and ridicule. I hope you do not find yourself out of a job, unfriended, or irrelevant because you make a mistake. I hope among hope that you are not judged with the same measure you are currently judging others. Amazing, isn’t it? The “other side” actually has the audacity to hope as well.

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