Friends, my heart is greatly burdened.
My heart is burdened by a great number of things. By the election results. By the violence and protests and tragic hate crimes. By the pain of so many in our nation. By the reactions to these things from the communities I love and respect.
We’ve seen the facts we can’t ignore: the increase of hate crimes and microaggressions, the accusations of racism and sexism and intolerance, and the labels like ignorant, simple-minded, and stupid exchanged between friends. We so easily minimize the pain and fear of others in the face of justifying our own opinions, and make light of the dehumanizing speech used by our President-elect by creating memes and tossing around jokes.
I ask this of myself as much as of you: when did arguing our points or justifying being on one side or another come before simply showing one another love and compassion? Please, let’s be cautious of shifting the blame. Before we accuse those offending us of failing to show that love and compassion, let’s take a look at our own lives.
In the face of challenging discussions and different perspectives, I have wrestled with how to speak to those I love with the grace I request from them. I own that I have been angry and frustrated and ashamed and confused and disappointed. I own that I still harbor bitterness in my heart, and I am seeking humility and understanding. I recognize that to generalize about anyone based solely on their race, gender, religion or vote is grossly irresponsible. There are those on all sides of this debate who are approaching things with understanding and love – I know this from experience, and I know this because I have hope in our communities.
However. The loudest voices out there right now, through broadcast news and social media and even in our friend groups, are spewing hate. They paint those of other perspectives as the enemy, and delegitimize their feelings in the name of logic or fact or a political party. These are the voices claiming that a fear of Donald Trump or the people who elected him is petty and ill informed. These are the voices that claim that everyone who voted Republican is a bigot. These are the voices that claim that everyone who voted Democrat is un-American. These are the voices that take joy in Hillary Clinton’s disappointment. These are the voices that wish failure on Donald Trump. These are the voices that deny the realities and responsibilities of privilege. These are the voices that ignore racism and sexism and prejudice, as well as those that attribute it to everyone outside of their own demographic.
So I suppose this is a call, then, to not only seek fresh understanding from those we mistakenly see as “the other side,” but also a call to speak out and stand up.
My Jesus calls me to love. He calls me to grieve with those who grieve, to defend the broken, and to act with compassion. He does not call us to love only if we agree, or to grieve only if we can logically, from our perspective and our side of the political spectrum, understand their fears. My Jesus calls me to use my voice as a tool of peace and my privilege as a declaration of value for those without it.
And so, I stand with you.
I stand with the women who have been scarred by physical or emotional abuse, who fear a culture that perpetrates and ignores these realities, who are disrespected and objectified.
I stand with racial and religious minorities who fear losing friends and family to deportation, who are persecuted for their skin color or their hijab, who are told that they have no value in our communities.
I stand with the LGBTQ community, who are hated, who are demonized as destroying the “American” life, whose sexual orientation is seen before their humanity.
I stand with our veterans, active duty military, and their families.
I stand with physically, cognitively, or learning disabled people.
I stand with those who are screamed at to leave the country.
I stand with those who made a political decision and are called racist or sexist or homophobic, not for their personal actions, but for their vote.
I stand with those who see their way of life threatened.
Stand with me, and keep me accountable. May we, speaking in truth and love and grace and compassion, be the louder voices.
For my fellow Jesus followers: I have heard the sovereignty of God used as a sign of hope as well as a platitude in these tough times. But the sovereignty of God and our hope in Christ is not a reason for passivity, nor an excuse for retreating from reality. My pastor, Andrew Clawson, said this morning that, “It’s often in the places where we think God is the most absent that He is most active.” May He be active in and through us as we love the hurting and the broken.