Friday, November 11, 2016

Yearning to Understand

I just thought I'd let people understand something: 

My children have Mexican blood. (Do they need to be sent back to Mexico?) 

They have German blood. (Their great-grandmother was in the Hitler Youth. Does this mean my children are Nazis?)

They have Native American blood. (Navajo, actually, if I am remembering correctly. Does this mean they are lazy or prone to alcoholism? Should they be forced to live on a reservation?)

They have Scottish, Irish, British, Danish, Swedish, and French blood. (What does this mean, other than the fact that everyone who created our country also has blood from these nations?)
Since Canadian is not an ethnicity (like American), I probably shouldn't mention how they have loads of Canadian blood. (My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were Canadian. But maybe I should mention it --perhaps they are going to start fighting for socialism.) 

You know, it doesn't matter how much or what kind of blood they have. They are first, children of God. Then they are second, citizens of the United States of America. Nobody is this country is better than another when it comes to these things. How could we be? Our nation was founded by people who came here from other places. (And punished, slaughtered, and fought the Native Americans already here, which is interesting, since my children come from both sides of that time in history.)

Look, if you are a US citizen or trying to become a US citizen or are trying to find out how to become a US citizen, then that means you're my people. 

If you happen to be a child of God, then that means you're my sibling. This means that everyone in this country (everyone in this world) is part of my family. They're part of yours, too. (Even the Trump voters, yo.) 

And families figure out a way to get along. They fight for each other. They back each other up, they lift each other, and they love one another. 

I have spent a lot of my adult life not listening. I have tried to. I have tried to educate myself and learn, grow, ponder, and see things in different ways. I believe "the glory of God is intelligence," and so I continue to find information and learn what I can about new ideas. But I don't always get it quite right. I'm broken, because I'm mortal. I've burned bridges with people who have probably taught me more about compassion than any others. I let wounds fester, and out of fear, I lash out. In my efforts to share the amazing things I've learned, I forget that not everyone has learned what I have, or that they've actually learned more than I have.

I've also come to find that not everyone is who they say they are, and not everyone can possibly have all the answers.

Perspectives are amazing things, you know. Just taking a second to look through another lens can change absolutely everything. My husband taught me this. (He's amazing!) Prejudice, actually, is created when people do not understand something they've never had to understand, before. So, this week, I looked through the lens of a Trump supporter. I couldn't understand why anyone would choose to vote for someone who's character was so... disgusting. I just couldn't wrap my brain around it. How could these religious people support someone so vile? Where is their integrity? Their souls? But instead of jumping onto the social bandwagon of hypocritical opposite hate-spewing, I decided to try and find out. Why in the world did Trump win? But most importantly, how in the world could I learn to see Trump supporters in a way that Trump, himself, refuses to see in certain groups of people?

What I discovered was that there are many intelligent people who are actually able to see past horrible things when they are focused on the greater good. We have millions of people in this country that truly believed Trump's character didn't matter if he could fix Washington politics. They chose him over Clinton not just because of her corruption, but also because Trump is simply not a politician.

I've learned more, but it's neither here nor there. But what I have found to really matter, in all of this, is the truly correct response to all people.

Nobody can claim -- as a political party, a religion, a race, or a nation --to have the monopoly on love, service, charity, or good works, when they react with rage, fear, hatred, or pain to things they do not understand, or choose not to understand. Love eradicates fear. And so, if people who hated Trump and refused to vote for him claim to have love in their hearts for all the people Trump threatened, then they must find it somewhere, in their hearts, to have love for those who supported him. Because love can't be two-faced. It can't be a double standard. If we are to have love everywhere, then it needs to be felt for everyone. It's easy, I think, for Clinton supporters to talk about loving people when they speak about LGBTQ people, different ethnicity and races, or women who need financial support. But what do they do when they face the reality that they have learned to despise white men, blue collar workers, Mid-West conservatives, and practicing evangelical Christians?

And what about the other way around? Trump supporters may say they are not racist, and they may say they didn't vote for him for those reasons, but they need to prove it, now, with their words and their actions. They have to extend the same love for those who are blinded by fear for their lives because of the hatred Trump supported. They can't mock them, gloat over them, or tell them their are being ridiculous. They need to forgive them for their anger and love them in their fears.

This is why Christ stressed to love our neighbors, I think. I'm pretty sure He knew that we would all face moments like this, when forgiveness might be possible ("okay, I'll try"), but love? Service? Condescending to understand?!? How is that possible? It's pretty darn hard.

But it is possible. I never thought I would ever come to a point where I could see that not everything is as black/white as I have been taught. Yes, there is right and wrong. Yes, there is good and bad. But people are dynamically and infinitely complex. The rules are good and protecting, but the variations of how we find our way to the rules is infinite. And if we want mercy extended to us in our mistakes and struggles, we have to be willing to extend the same privileges to other people.

I think the biggest mistake we make is when we think that learning to understand and love others means we become just like them. This isn't true. We don't have to agree, or change our opinions, or our politics, or our religion. We only have to love, respect, and support other people in their opinions, politics, and religion. We simply love them.

Even if we didn't vote for them.

Even if we don't share the same blood.

Even if we don't have the same religion or gender or race.

We need to come to a place where we can genuinely say, "I have walked with my neighbor in order to understand, because I love her. Please, please --help me to understand."

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