Hi, I’m a person.
Despite what some commenters think, I’m not a paid Democrat operative. Despite their theories, my piece wasn’t ghostwritten by Hillary’s team. Despite how some have argued and flooded me with links as if I didn’t research my post, I watched and read extensively from varied sources in the hours it took to draft what I shared last weekend.
One commenter wrote, "if this is indeed a real person, she either is a flaming pro-abort or is too busy with children to do much more than arrange sound bites from the liberal, dishonest media." Sigh.
I’m a person who spent a week on vacation and wrote a research paper on politics and pro-life ideology for fun. So, yes, I'm a nerd, but I'm still a person.
I know we don’t all agree. I never asked or demanded anyone else to share my views. I was careful to express respect and care for those who hold other positions, even as I honestly expressed that I don’t understand how Christians can support Trump. (This post, also lengthy, does an exceptional job of expanding upon that. I don’t agree with a couple of his points, but I think the biblical arguments are compelling.) But I never attacked anyone for holding a different conviction than I do.
Meanwhile, my comment sections… mercy.
I usually police them. I didn’t this time. Part of it was because I couldn’t keep up with each one. But part of it is that I think we all need to be heard. So I was more lenient than usual.
I think I erred on the side of grace, maybe too much so. I allowed people to question my integrity and faith and intellect without shutting that down. When I felt like someone was harsh to a close friend in the comments, though, I jumped in to protect her and stop it immediately. When it came to me, I wasn’t as protective.
I’m going to need to spend a while processing what that means.
I know this, though: I’m learning to value myself as much as I value others. I’m definitely not there yet. My wrist might be branded with the word enough, but my heart doesn’t always believe it. As a result, I stood by, tolerating more heartless and unkind comments directed at me than I should have allowed.
I’ve always tried to make others comfortable, sometimes with severe consequences to my health or safety. Earlier this year, I stopped having any contact with someone who has persistently and at times violently abused me throughout my life. Afterward, my therapist said, “You’ve always limited your children’s contact with him. It seems like you’re starting to value your own safety and protection as much as you value theirs.”
Just as I deserved better than my abuse, we all deserve better than current political rhetoric offers. We are all better than the dehumanizing shouts and snarky digs that have become common at rallies and on the internet. We would correct our children if they ever spoke with such disregard for another person as we do about the candidates we dislike. (Ouch.)
If America needs to be made great, I can guarantee the answer isn’t the candidate who keeps promising that. The answer isn’t the other candidate either, though. The answer is a return to common decency and civil debate. The answer is re-learning how to disagree without being disagreeable. The answer is to model for our children how we would want them to act toward someone with whom they don’t see eye to eye. The answer is loving ourselves and then loving our neighbors as ourselves. The answer is to love our God and each other more than we love our political parties or patriotism.
I don’t know how to bring about this change on a large scale, but I know what I can do for myself. I am striving to see every human being – even [insert the name of the candidate whose positions you find abhorrent] – as a precious life created in the image of God. My theology says that is truth. This goes for every person, every commenter, who disagrees with me too. Reducing anyone to a caricature or stereotype and dismissing different views as indoctrination isn’t treating each other with dignity or respect. If I refuse to support a candidate for denigrating those he doesn’t like but then do the same to him, I have lost any moral high ground I claim.
My Bible also says I’m to show honor and offer prayers to governing authorities. I don't think any of us has done that well, honestly. I watched as some criticized the humanity – and not just the policies – of George W. Bush while his supporters cried foul, and then I watched as those crying foul did the same exact thing to Barack Obama while those who had been cruel before chastised the people now occupying their still warm spots in the cheap seats. Pot, meet kettle. Both sides stand guilty here.
We can’t spend an entire election cycle dehumanizing the other side and then, if our candidate loses, treat the new leader as a person worthy of respect. Our brains and emotions don’t work that way. If we are called to show deference to those in authority, then we have to start when they are running for office. We can’t throw around disparaging words like Killary or Drumpf and then respect to President Clinton or President Trump.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying you have to respect the words or actions or platforms of each candidate. I'm also not saying I've changed my mind about my last post. (I haven't.) But I am saying, Christians, we must aim to respect the personhood of each one, as an act of worship glorifying to the Creator we all share in common. Even if you don’t share my faith, I’d encourage you to exercise the same principle, as a demonstration that our shared humanity is more valuable than our differences.
I’ve heard some friends say they’ve never been so dismayed for our country as they are by Hillary. I’ve heard others say the same about Trump. As for me, it's not either candidate who worries me. It's not Supreme Court appointments or emails or racism or marriage protections or misgyny or [fill in the blank]. No, none of those bother me the most.
I’ve never been so concerned for our nation and my children as I have by the lack of care we show each other over political differences.
This week I learned that some of my friendships were conditional. Some who I’ve laughed with and prayed with and cried with and worshiped with turned from me because I said I was voting for Hillary as an expression of my pro-life beliefs. Hurtful comments from strangers didn’t pain me, but slander and abandonment and unfriending from those who I love and who I thought loved me… that stung.
I’m a person.
So are you.
So is Hillary. So is Trump. So is each of the third party candidates.
So are Republicans. So are Democrats. So are independents.
So are those who vote for either major candidate. So are those who vote third party. So are those who don’t vote.
So are those who agree with you. So are those who don’t.
I’m not as concerned about if you’re Team Hillary 2016 – like me – or Team Trump 2016 as I am that we’re all Team Humanity 2016. Let’s disagree with policies and politics and positions, not with people. And if I resolve to do this and you do and so on, then I think we can change our political climate for the better.
We can do this. I’m sure of it. Who's with me?