Like many of you, my heart is heavy this week for our country. It has been heavy for months. Division, hate and ugliness take over the headlines. It is tempting to believe that is the truth – that our country is radically divided and each of us must pick a side. I don’t think that is the truth though. I’ve looked into too many eyes to believe that.
If I did have to pick a side, it wouldn’t be a political one, it would be the side of love.
For months I’ve listened to friends and family from both major political parties passionately express their fears, their hopes, and their hurts. It seems like the uglier the words on both sides, the more viral they get. Those that speak out of love seem to be drowned out by those controlled by fear. I have my own hopes and heavy concerns about what the coming years will look like for our country. I lie awake a night wondering what it will look like for my neighbors whose race is different from mine, for my Christian neighbors, my Muslim neighbors, my LBGT neighbors, and my immigrant and refugee neighbors.
I wonder how to communicate to my kids behaviors and words spoken by those in leadership and my fellow citizens that I can’t wrap my mind around. As I teach my kids to be slow to anger, slow to speak and quick to listen, I pray that I can be an adult that sets that example too. I think about the future when I sit with my kids and we talk about this time in American political history – what will I tell them about how I processed and responded to our current national climate and the rhetoric on all sides?
I keep coming back to love.
I will love my neighbor – the one who looks like me and the one who doesn’t, the one born on US soil and the one who wasn’t, the one who holds my views and the one who doesn’t, the one who worships the same God as I do and the one who doesn’t. I will love by showing up in their lives, by listening to their hearts, by owning my own ignorance and indifference, and by extending my hand of friendship because that is the kind of country I want to live in.
I’ll begin this week with my kids watching documentaries about Martin Luther King Jr.. We will end this week together watching the inauguration of the next U.S. president. And in the midst of both we will talk about what love in action looks like.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’m a big fan of Kid President. So much wisdom in such a young man. “I believe you should treat everybody like it is their birthday.” You can be sure my kids and I will be talking about that simple thought…treat everybody like it is their birthday!
Update: Because it was brought up in the comments, I want to firmly state this post is not about one candidate, supporters of a particular candidate or about a particular party. This post is about how it feels (to me) like the ugliest words and actions seem to be the loudest and as a result it all feels so heavy to me. I hear the cries and concerns from dear friends in both major political parties. This is not an ‘us’ verses ‘them’ post. Instead of listening to all the ugly and responding with more ugly – I’m want to be quick to listen (to all), slow to speak and slow to anger. I choose love and I chose to walk in relationship with my neighbors.