The measure of a man is what he does with power.
This new post-election landscape feels unwieldy, like a sweater cut on a bias, or socks that keep bunching up in the toe, or cute shoes that rub in that one wrong place. I’ve never been this unsettled over national events. Never. Our family weathered the Great Recession, with some tough choices and cutbacks we managed fine. Nine/Eleven was horrendous, but the nation united, our common grief a precious touchpoint. We worked things out together. But this, this is unfamiliar to me, my future national leadership unrecognizable. The fear rhetoric we’ve had to choke down for months, a reality. Friends and people I love and cherish so scared, yet moving forward quaking yet bold. This shouldn’t be us.
Many narratives are beginning to emerge trying to answer this question. Each one of us under scrutiny, whether it involves a blindness toward particular swaths of the country, or paying credence to false news, or not demanding more from our elected officials. All of it points to a breakdown of our ability to empathize, communicate and come together.
Yet, as we seek to find the personal answers, what to own, we have more important work to do, and that is taking care of our most vulnerable. Come to think of it, that has always been our primary job, hasn’t it?
We must come to the point of agreement. We must unify around this work, the work that sees and feels for another human, the work that sets our personal needs aside for the common good, the work that demands we come together as one human race. Regardless of who we casted our vote for, we must agree we will not support division, that we will not stand for harsh treatment of minorities, that we will stand firm in elevating the humanity of each and every human as created by God.
Our president-elect has had two weeks to fervently stare firm into the camera and denounce atrocities toward minorities and women. Apparently, he has not, up to this point of writing, so I beseech you, I beseech me, we must be this voice. We must extend a hand of generosity and grace and protection to ALL humans, regardless of color, nationality, race, gender, sexuality.
My husband, a white, straight male, deeply understands this essential obligation. After church on Sunday after the election, Eric, knowing the pain within our congregation invited two dear friends out for lunch, both women reeling with fright resulting from the horrible words slung their way, their bodies’ vulnerability a wide, open wound. Eric knows the desperate importance his advantage and privilege carry, the responsibility that now he bears to bring relief and rest and protection to so many in our marginalized communities.
And so, I challenge the good, straight, white men of this nation, regardless of who you supported in the election. I challenge you to mimic the actions of my dear husband. Seek, with deep humility, to be a silent protector, a shield, an advocate in these dangerous times. Seek, with great consideration, to be a verbal protector, a shield and advocate when the situation rises. Own your privilege and your luck and place yourself in a position of bringing relief. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you align. It doesn’t matter. You have a responsibility if your neighbor, the person in your community, is human. Each and every person has the right to draw breath, to pursue happiness, to be able walk down the street without harassment.
For all of us, the fear is real. Evil has been unleashed, and I repeat: Regardless of who you supported in this election, you are responsible for your neighbor. Regardless of who you supported in this election, you are charged with taking care of one another. We must recognize the vulnerable among us and set aside our differences and work toward generosity and mercy.
I will do my part as a white woman, I bear a fair amount of privilege, but I’m scared, too. As an independent female, I am now more cognizant of my surroundings than ever before, but when I’m with Eric I can rest. When I’m with my enormous son, I can rest. This matters, friends. This matters because we all belong together, regardless of our color, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality. This has nothing to do with condoning or supporting behavior. This is just love.
Plain and simple, love.
The protection of another body, the protection of another’s dignity, the protection of another’s place in the world – love.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
-Jesus (Matthew 22:38 – 39)