brotherly love

by humanmama on April 10, 2016

I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats for months, now, wondering if I’m ever going to weigh in on the current election process and candidates. Well, even if you’re not at the edge of your seat, hang on to it, because here I go: humanmama’s take on the 2016 presidential election. #HMTOTPE.

What is happening to this country? This country was formed out of political and religious oppression, right? And those people landed here to start for themselves a new country of FREEDOM. I believe that right now, this country is just amazing–a free place where we can pretty much say and do what we want. People in other places around the world get arrested, and even killed, for writing or stating their opinion about their country’s political process or their country’s leader, and here we are free to pretty much write or say whatever we choose. It’s a “free country.”

That, my friends, is so awesome. And that, my friends, is why we were SO TOTALLY LUCKY to be born here. Or, if we’re here because we traveled (or even fled) from another place, that’s the reason we are here. We are here to be free. We are here to live not in fear but in freedom. We’re all drunk (arguably drunk and stupid) with the power that comes from being SO FREEEEE.

Here’s the thing. Like FDR once wrote (or Uncle Ben in Spiderman once famously reiterated), “Great power involves great responsibility.” We are giddy with the power of being free, but we are ALSO entrusted with responsibility. We are responsible to 1) stay free, and 2) use that freedom wisely. This is what gets us all riled up. First, the staying free, which inherently turns our thoughts (we’re all human, right?) into an “us versus them” situation. Second, using our freedom wisely. Being kind. Being loving. Being trustworthy and caring. This is like sharing with someone who doesn’t have as much as you do. This is like helping a schoolmate who needs to pick up the books he dropped. This is welcoming people into your home who don’t have a home. This is like my kids making bags of toiletries and gloves and socks and food and keeping them in our car in case we see someone in need. The staying free (I’m looking at you, amazing military families) is an extremely difficult part of freedom, but it’s not the only part. We also have to responsibly use (wield?) our freedom: it goes hand-in-hand with staying free. They’re both two sides of the same coin.

This is what I keep hearing, all. the. time. Muslims coming in from other countries? POSSIBLE THREAT TO OUR FREEDOM. Mexican immigrants coming to the US to work and send money home? THREAT TO OUR FREEDOM. People protesting a Trump Rally? THREAT. People putting up Trump signs in their yard? THREAT. Ted Cruz? THREAT. Hillary Clinton? THREAT. Bernie Sanders? THREAT. Taxes? THREAT. Corporations? THREAT. People saying “don’t say that, that hurts my feelings”? THREAT.

This is what I’m not hearing. I am not hearing people say this simple phrase: “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Can you tell me what I said wrong?” When someone says #BlackLivesMatter, I feel that it is our INALIENABLE RESPONSIBILITY to say “Did I say something that made it seem like black lives did not matter? Because I am so sorry if I did, and I’d like to learn about that.” NOT to say “What, are you telling me that ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER?!”

When someone says “You hurt me,” our response should be “I’m so sorry,” and also “I won’t do it again. Teach me how to make it better.” And if you’re calling yourself a Christian I think our response MUST BE THIS. It’s what I teach my kids. It’s what I try to practice. The reason I wouldn’t even consider voting for Trump doesn’t really come from his politics, it comes from bringing a nation so unstable within itself to a place where people feel that Trump is “saying what we really think” but maybe can’t say. And that’s not called brave. That’s called a toddler.

When my 3-year-old gets really, really mad, he hits. He screams. He says “I DON’T LIKE YOU” and other mean things. And although it’s age-appropriate, it hurts people’s feelings. So when my 6- or 9-year-olds say something mean back, it just escalates. As their parent, I have to tell them that growing up means NOT reacting to every insult. Growing up means NOT saying the thing that is at the tip of your tongue because once the thing is said, you can’t take it back. Once nasty words or actions are done, they can’t be undone, and you’re left trying to clean up the mess with apologies. At the end of the day, when you’ve said or done something really terrible, the only thing you can do is vow to let your words and actions for the next many days, weeks, and months show to the person you hurt that you are truly sorry. And that you won’t do it again.

And you do this because you are growing up. Because you don’t want people to be hurt. Because you are inherently kind. Because you are not a psychopath.

So, My 6- and my 9-year-old are pretty much experts at saying things like “that hurts my feelings,” when they get hurt or yelled at by their 3-year-old brother. And we’re teaching the 3-year-old that if he hurt someone it’s not THEIR fault that they were too sensitive, or too close to his fist. It’s not their fault that they angered him in the first place. It’s ONLY the fault of the attacker, and it doesn’t matter who started it first. So it’s up to him to apologize and make it right. And, it’s up to him to not do it again.

This is what I am hoping of my country. This is what I am hoping of my leaders. I’m not looking for someone who “says what we all are thinking,” or who “says what people are afraid to say,” mostly because no matter what that is, it probably isn’t good. I am looking for someone to make peace. I am looking for someone to be kind. I am looking for someone to stand up to injustice and wrongdoing, and not always with war. Not often with war. I am looking for someone to compromise with the people I don’t agree with, to come up with a solution in the middle that maybe we both don’t love but that we both can agree on for now. I am looking for someone to bridge the hurt and the pain and say “we are going to do better,” and then really do better.

So when you ask who I’m voting for, I’m not totally decided yet. But I can tell you that I can’t vote for someone who is less mature than my 6-year-old. I don’t want to make this country great again if it means leaving a trail of hurt and pain–in fact, that would not be making this country great at all. I do care about “the other guys,” because once my ancestors were “the other guys.” Sometime in our lives we will all be outsiders, and those times are when we desperately need someone welcoming us with open arms and hearts, and not screaming at or punching or hurting us.

In fact, even my three-year-old is starting to get it, Mr. Trump. I hope in time you can too.

brotherly love

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