This Presidential Election process has been so toxic. I’ve seen it bring out some of the very worst in people. People I really, really like and care for.
I began writing this post with an uncertain purpose– was I looking to persuade? Inform? Entertain? To just vent?
And then I saw a video and it blew me out of the water (I will post it at the end here, and encourage you to watch it, to be convicted).
And all I can say is, Mea Culpa. (That’s Latin for “through my fault.”)
So yes, this election cycle brought out a lot of anger. I’ve deleted a few people from Facebook. Some of my friends and I have vowed to preserve our friendships by only posting about pets and food. In our family we must gingerly step around politics and reassure each other that we love each other. I have cut down on what I read in print media, what I believe in social media, and what I watch on network TV. I try very hard not to post things that may incite, but these days unless it has to do with a puppy or food, you are at risk of offending. The rabble rousing and invective is effective. Everyone is building their opinion bunkers, and only the truest of friends seem capable of rising above all the rhetoric and hang on to the things they enjoyed about each other.
Our country’s political system really offered up some poor choices this time around. I couldn’t support any of the major candidates, and was shocked at who our electorate put forward. It was a first for me to find that I couldn’t even agree with my own party; I didn’t recognize my party. It all felt so wrong, so beneath us, so tawdry.
There was a time in my young and wide-eyed life where I was chin-deep in an election campaign and the inauguration of a new president. It was a hopeful and exciting time. It was a glorious time. It was a time when Americans were proud and the negatives didn’t have the bully pulpits of the current social media misinformation feeding frenzy. In that era, the news I consumed was what I deliberately chose to consume, within reason and on my terms. By and large, it was unbiased, it was “just the news,” “just the way it was.” The twenty-four hour news cycle-spin hadn’t surfaced yet; instant “news” on your phone or laptop didn’t exist. I liked serving my government, all of it’s bureaucratic imperfections notwithstanding. Maybe it was a thing about youth, but we had hope, pride, and determination to work hard for goals. We believed in our county. That was the 80s. I feel fortunate to have had that mostly positive experience.
I don’t see that hope and pride now, with some good reason, and it saddens me. Our youth are angry, shrill, and yes, somewhat entitled. I don’t see as much of that drive to be a part of solutions, but rather a tendency to whine about the problems, and vilify opposing opinions. To go negative. Don’t get me wrong, we have some amazing, brilliant youth doing wonderful things; and they are dealing with a much more toxic world. I would probably whine a bit too if I were a 20-something in 2017.
Most of the major news outlets pulled in their claws for the inaugural festivities, and I felt a glimmer of hope. The ugly rhetoric could, for a 24-hour period, perhaps be tucked away. A truce of bitterness could exist. People could take pride at least in the fact of a peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of a healthy democracy. Winners and losers could be cordial to one another; foes could temporarily put aside their hateful exchanges. Our outgoing president impressed me and left me with a picture of his class and dignity. For a precious few hours, I felt proud of our country and our processes. Was it the best, most unifying inaugural address ever? No, it was not; no surprises. Was it honest and true to the candidate who had won the election? Absolutely. “Make America Great…” is something we all should want. They just had to tack on that “…again” to ruffle feathers. Gaaaa. It still felt wrong, beneath us, tawdry.
Before the clock struck 12, this Cinderella-esque moratorium on hate-spewing was over, with a vengeance. The potshots, sharp criticisms, and slandering began again.
The next day women around the globe took to the streets in the name of “Feminism” and “Women’s Rights,” for what appears to be a peaceful march. I was happy for a forum many women found meaningful or empowering. Some who attended were friends, family, and daughters of friends. I believe in the power and strength of women, and I believe we ought to support one another on some pretty basic issues concerning equal rights. If these marches provided momentum to further causes that support the fair, equal, and respectful treatment of women, then I’m happy. As for me, I choose other, more directed ways in which to support women.
But… but… present at these marches were celebrities who make their living and owe their popularity through vulgar and raw humor, and song lyrics. And, we, many of us, find them “funny” and entertaining.
The sad thing for me is that all of this division is spreading its greedy fingers to not only race and gender and religion, but Christians against Christians; women against women. Among those who know better, who in our hearts know that united we stand and divided we fall.
Several issues seem to form a backbone in the current women’s movement: abortion and LGBTQ/same-sex marriage are two. Our courts have chosen to enact laws on these issues. These laws give rights and freedom to some citizens to make choices that others choose not to make. The premise that we all have to believe the same things was struck down somewhere around 1776. Hence, the term “Feminism” has possibly excluded some feminine views, especially of the Biblical persuation.
My life has been imbued with wonderful, lovely, beautiful LGBTQ people– from friends to family members, to friends of my kids whom I’ve known since kindergarten. And I love them all. I want them to be happy. I don’t want them to be treated badly or unfairly. I will not judge them, but I reserve the right to privately pray for their choices–just as I would anyone. My Biblical values first and foremost require me to love, then to share the Gospel when the door is opened, to encourage, with patience.
As for abortion, I find it hard to believe that any woman says to herself, “one day, I want to get an abortion.” Nor do I believe that many women think “Hey, if I get pregnant, no biggie, I’ll just get an abortion.” Whatever your moral beliefs are about when life begins, abortion isn’t something most take lightly. It’s a medical procedure than can have complications. It has to be emotional for most. I’m guessing if any woman had to check a box of either “Not Pregnant” OR “Abortion,” there’d be a clear choice. There’s no denying many would-be aborted children grew up to be amazing people and are grateful the choice was made for life. Maybe there are strong and legitimate arguments for moral or medical circumstances for abortion; I will not judge your stance on this issue, even if it differs from mine. I personally believe that as much as it’s your right to be pro-choice, it is my right to be pro-life. I don’t seek to remove anyone’s choice, I only wish for more alternatives to abortion, to see a strong downward trend in abortions in this world (and crime, and disease, and poverty, and war, and hate…). I can get behind support for affordable productive “rights” and access to contraception and women’s health care. These are rights and choices I think anyone can get behind. And, I believe that reducing the “necessity” for abortion just might make our world a more loving place. But inasmuch as I can’t and won’t make that decision for you, I also should not be asked to support it. I have my own moral compass and know how I’ll be answering for my choices; perhaps you do too. I only wish not to have procedures to end a life funded with my taxes. If pro-choice advocates want to privately support abortion clinics, I don’t argue with their legal right to do this. What would be wrong about splitting an organization like Planned Parenthood into two entities: the one which provides all women’s health and reproductive services except abortion; and one that is privately funded and provides abortion services? This is where the rhetoric gets confused. Most conservative women are not against access to health care and family planning. Some just don’t believe anyone should be forced to finance, or perform abortions. When does our choice matter?
I think basically we all want people to be happy. I want women to have choices to plan their lives in ways that make them and their families healthy and happy. Family planning with contraception is a good choice; family planning with abortions not such a great solution.
Unfair treatment of women is not something that makes a reasonable human being happy; likewise unfair treatment of men, children, minorities and the world’s poor is not what we want.
It’s hard to believe any woman (or most men) in the world enjoyed hearing Trump’s recorded “locker room” statement. It was vulgar and horrible. It was not something befitting a President, and not something you want to ever hear a man say publically–well, caught saying publically. There is nothing that excuses it, and we’ve sadly seen very little remorse over it, or active measures to apologize. Some might say that John Kennedy’s or Bill Clinton’s affairs, the Oval Office tryst with Lewinski, and multiple accusations of womanizing were just as egregious, yet curiously there was less backlash from feminist groups over other “bad men.” The main difference I suppose, is that if Clinton (or Kennedy) uttered the “P” word, or any other nasty word, he did it one-on-one, behind closed doors, and with the probable consent (or titillation) of the woman involved. Yes, in a consensual intimate relationship, some men and women actually a little dirty talk. Trump’s remark (and concomitant presumed views on women) was unfortunately broadcast to the world. He wasn’t accused of assaulting or demeaning one woman; he was heard as assaulting all women. And I get that for many women, he doesn’t get a do-over or mea culpa or a slap on the wrist; it was unforgivable, and it will not be forgiven. In this, I say the man is stupid.
So let’s just go on the record that MOST women dislike, or at best, feel squeamish about the kind of “gentleman” our new President is. He’s had three marriages. He has a trophy wife nearly half his age and only 9 years older than his oldest child. At one point in their relationship he encouraged and condoned his then 26-year old model girlfriend that she pose nude for a photo shoot on his luxury jet; this does not sit well with me. However, she too had choices. She married him, and supports him. What business is it of mine to condemn her choices? This type of relationship wouldn’t work for the vast majority of women out there, but it works for them.
Oh wait. Did we read (or enjoy) Fifty Shades of Grey? Uhm… maybe saw the movie. Oh, yea… that was just fiction, right? Or, maybe Sex And The City (the main male character, Mr. Big, being modeled off of Trump).
And there are children, none of whom asked to be born to their father or their circumstances anymore than we did. They are off-limits. This is where we all need to “go high.”
So yes, there are queasy feelings about the next four years. Wrong, beneath us, tawdry. And I have choices. I can make this the most negative four years of my life. I can remain mired in the debates and arguments; I can defend or excoriate. I can protest, shout, argue, insult and think my opinion is the only one that counts. And I would no doubt lose many friends…
…Or I can remain hopeful. I can stay involved in the process of making this world a better place for all humans: men, women and children; brown, white, black– all of God’s creation.
And pray. A lot.
And… accept some of the blame. #exactlyourpresident