Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stronger Together

I have tried, over the years, to not get too political in my blog, in my job, or in social media posts. My friends and family who know me well know where my political views lie. I, of course, pray and vote with my conscience, and that is often difficult because as a Catholic there is never a clear cut candidate or party.

But this election has broken me. I never talk about who I will vote for in class, but all of my students this year knew that I did not like Donald Trump. It started back in the primaries when there were several candidates. None of us thought he would actually become the nominee. Then he did.

Then launched, as we all know, one of the most horrifying and telling presidential campaigns in recent history. As a public speaking and media literacy teacher, I told my students that this campaign was different for many reasons because instead of using facts (logos) and ethos (credibility) for their rhetoric as most candidates in the past, these two nominees were using pure pathos (emotions) to persuade their supporters. And I do believe that one did that even more so than the other. He relied on less facts and more fear and anger to get his votes. And he won the election.

In the past, I have remained silent when I was told that there was only one party or candidate that I could or could not vote for. This year, I broke my silence because I could not stand by and be told that someone who has been caught on tape saying racist, misogynistic, and terrifying things was a candidate that I should vote for. This is not who we are as Christians, though it seems to be who we are as Americans right now.

In many ways, because of where our focus is right now as a country (aka ourselves and self preservation), we brought this upon ourselves. I could continue to be negative and add to this web of fear speech, but instead I'm going to shift my focus for I still believe that we are "Stronger Together."

When I woke up this morning I knew that I would have to put on a brave face, but I was sad and nervous about how to address my students. Again, I teach media so we have all been watching this election together. Though, it was so tough this year since we had a candidate saying things like  "I could literally shoot someone in the street and would still get votes." How was I supposed to talk about this with 11 year olds? How was I suppose to tell them that in my 35 years of life I have never experienced anything like this and this is not what an election should be?

When I walked in this AM, though, my students read me well and came in somewhat quiet. I knew that many of them (as I work in a rich, white, privileged area) were actually excited about the outcome because their parents were. They asked respectfully: "can we talk about the election?" While I really didn't want to at all, I knew that they needed to and we should. I just reminded them as I always teach them that we can have a discussion but we need to look at all sides and be respectful of others. We were able to do so and all was well. I even got some knowing looks and smiles from former students in the hallways and I appreciated their sincere empathy and sympathy.

And I am so grateful that I do teach religion because there are always, always opportunities to pray. We prayed for our future elected officials. We prayed for the state of our country. We reflected on Luke 14:7-14 aka the parable of the wedding banquet that teaches us to be humble and reach out to the poor. We talked about how Christ is a light in the darkness. And this started to turn my dreary day around.

I thought when I woke up this AM, the world had ended. But as I went through my day and encountered Christ, I am encouraged and motivated by others. We are not going to sit back and be voiceless. We are going to have our voices be heard: as women, as children of God, as Christians, as humans. As it says in Scripture: "Perfect Love casts out fear." Christ alone is our perfect love. And Love always trumps hate.

We are clearly divided as a country right now, this election has made that clear. But we are "stronger together." I hope that this election brings about the change of our hearts so that both sides can stop living in fear and start working and building a strong future together.

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