Political Landscape

I don’t care who is going to receive your vote.  As long as you feel like you’re making the best choice, great job!  Go be a ‘merican and vote on Nov 8th!

The concerning part of politics to me is how we treat each other.  Somehow, we’ve all landed in this spot where yelling and pointing fingers is how we try to “convince” everyone around us to agree with us.  When has this ever worked?  Whether the topic is something huge like your faith or as small as where to go to lunch: in what arena would derogatory Facebook posts, name-calling, or public shaming help to advance your cause?

If our motivation for a conversation is to convince everyone to follow us: we’re going to put people on the defensive.  If our mindset while posting a comment is to jab someone into submitting to our brilliance: we’re going to be heard as offensive.  If our heart behind posting a link is to push someone over to our side: we’re going to fall short.

I believe the best way to chat about politics (or any controversial topic) is to completely change how we approach the conversation.  I believe it boils down to two ideas:  an eagerness to learn and a commitment to love.

Approaching a conversation with the intent to learn is a complete shift of our mindset.  It’s difficult to conquer, but the effects are incredible.  I’m working to get better and better at this myself!  An eagerness to learn will manifest itself in humility and sound like a bunch of questions.  It’s possible that we are very confident in our stance, but we can still learn something about why the other person is passionate about their beliefs.  They may know something we don’t, or may prioritize certain values over others, or at a minimum: they’ll have a different perspective on the facts.  I’m a straight, white, decently well-off Christian city-boy.  Even if I know everything possible about all candidates (no one does), I still could learn a whole bunch from someone else’s perspectives and life experiences (especially because of my limited exposure!).  

The second, and more important part of the equation is a dedication to love others.  Super simple.  Super hard.  The people voting the other way must be so dumb, or just don’t get it, right?!  It’s so hard not to slip into judgement or disdain for others who have different views.  The hardest people to love are the people who disagree with us or actively seek to hurt us.  Sometimes, both of those concepts are exposed in a political discussion!  It would be so much easier to spew hate and regretful words in a political conversation.  I believe we have to fight these temptations!

Loving one another is essential to the Christian faith, but also makes logical sense.  Having deep, impactful relationships with other people only happens when we look past their flaws to see the heart and intent within.  Everyone is doing the best they can with the path laid out for them, and I believe loving them where they’re at could impact them in ways no one can expect.  I could be secretly struggling with some deep feelings of inadequacy, and an intentional conversation to understand my perspective could make me feel appreciated, valued, and understood.  We are wired with a necessity to feel loved, so sharing love with others could be life changing and would drastically affect your relationship. Seizing the oppportunity to love someone while learning about them and how they tick is essential to a successful controversial discussion.

My stance on learning and loving boils down to this: if we crave to love others and learn what and how they think and believe, we’re both better off.  We’re both smarter.  We both feel valued.  And honestly, we both may change our opinion!


Reaction to Kneeling During the Anthem

I’ve been watching and listening and reading about some of the events happening in the world and I feel compelled to share what’s on my mind. I believe the people who are upset about players disrespecting the flag/country by kneeling during the National Anthem are the people who don’t get it. They are within the target audience. I know this because I was in this group until I recently spent the time/energy to research, listen, and pray. If I was oppressed and the target of racism on an hourly basis, I would do whatever I could to voice my opinion. The alternatives include the violent riots.

The problem is absolutely racism, but it’s a new and different spin than it used to be. The white hoods don’t exist much anymore (although, Micheal Rose-Ivey has proven that some people still wish he would be lynched). It’s less about direct racism than it is about mostly innocent, do-good people having reactionary thoughts that vary whether the people around them are white or black. An example is that within our culture is this idea that black people do bad things, so we clutch our purses or change our topic of conversation when people of color are around. These small judgments and reactions change how we treat others, how we parent, who gets which jobs, how much forgiveness we give, where we sit on the bus, how we talk to each other, which uber rider we approve, which side of the street we walk on, whether we wait for a less full elevator, our gut about our friend’s boyfriend, which car salesman we’d prefer, where we sit at church, if we trust this babysitter, whether we give the benefit of the doubt, who we ask for directions, if we’re surprised by who’s at this concert, etc, etc. We’re not talking about the intentional extremes of setting fires in the neighbors yard or using certain hateful names. Those of us who feel like we aren’t racist are absolutely unintentionally racist, often by judgmental reactions (myself included!). It’s a huge problem, it’s disgusting, sad, I hate it, and I have no idea how to fix it. But, the first step is listening and being aware that it’s a problem.

Colin Kaepernick, Micheal Rose-Ivey, and plenty of others are taking a stand to at least make it a topic of conversation. The conversation will hopefully wake-up our culture to realizing there is a problem. Solving it will be a long running process. This has nothing to do with insulting our country. I’m so very thankful for rights and freedom awarded to me and my family by the men and women who defend our country. This freedom is the same freedom that both allows me to worship Jesus and for Micheal Rose-Ivey to protest oppression. Kneeling during the National Anthem is just a vehicle for triggering a conversation. This is a peaceful yet very loud message because of the platform awarded to these young men by their talents.

Solving this problem will require awareness, empathy, grace, and a lot of Christ-like love. I’m praying for our society, and I’m praying that my kids get to grow up in a slightly better world.