Sunday, November 13, 2016

#BuildThatBridge: ... And I'm Talking, Too

This essay is a companion to my previous one entitled I’m Listening... I hope you’ll read that one first. That’s how I developed them and that’s how my thinking is moving.  

I want to listen first. I want to understand. I want to find the common ground that we can both share and protect and develop. I want to be your neighbor and your brother and your friend. But there are limits. There are principles I’m not willing to give up just so we can get along. Some we might share, some not. I want to respect you, even when we disagree. Especially then. Here’s what you are going to need to respect about me. 

I believe in a Creator who values love over fear, sacrifice over selfishness, compassion over pride, choice over coercion, dignity over shame, forgiveness over punishment, and giving over taking. I believe in a Redeemer who modeled a way of life that could bring about a more perfect world if we had the courage to imitate him. I believe in the counseling presence of a Spirit whose guidance and continuing revelation never abandons anyone, no matter how hopelessly lost they might feel or appear to be.

I believe in Human Rights that no government has the authority to take away. That people have the right to lives that are as rich and healthy as it is possible for anyone to be. That they ought to be free to choose their religion, their ideas, their profession, and their home without interference from anyone. That insofar as they do not harm to their neighbors, people are entitled to the opportunity to be happy. To choose who they love. Where they find entertainment and recreation. How they express themselves. Who their friends are. How they treat their own bodies. And I believe that when these rights are threatened by governments, corporations, public groups, or private individuals, people are entitled to defense and protection.

I believe we are stewards of this planet and everything on it. That the earth and its resources are not ours to destroy, but are our inheritance and our legacy. That every living thing has a role and a dignity that deserve our respect and if necessary, our protection. That abuse of the environment is an offense against our creator, our neighbors, and ourselves. 

I believe that everyone gets it wrong sometimes. That you life ought to reflect what you believe, but what you believe may not determine how I live my life. That everyone has something to teach us. That Truth is revealed in many ways to many different people. That we can always do better. 
We can disagree. We can split hairs. We can show off, hurt each other’s feelings, cut one another slack, and find ways to settle for less than we wish we could get. But these are the boundaries I’m not going to cross. 

Now let’s start building bridges.

#BuildThatBridge: I'm Listening...

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Losing hurts when the stakes are so high. Godwin’s law had been validated and surpassed months before. Evil people had elected a combination of Hitler, Mussolini, and Napoleon in a wave of hatred and bigotry than marked the end of the United States as a beacon of hope for the world. I ached when Ohio fell. I wept when Pennsylvania joined. I vented and raged on Facebook, grieving for crushed hopes of a better future.

What to do when your Republic has lost its mind? Move to the mountains, build a tiny shack, and become a hermit? Start sending resumes to YMCA’s in Canada? Buy a gun and prepare for blood in the streets? Stop going to work, empty my bank account, and drink till my liver exploded? 

Please don't think I’m being funny. I considered them all. Ultimately, I turned to my faith for help. In the excitement of anticipated victory I had forgotten my devotions for Tuesday. Psalm 121 popped up on my phone.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—   from where will my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot be moved;   he who keeps you will not slumber. 
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore.

I started to pray. “OK God. So I’m supposed to trust you and not be afraid. Now what? What the hell am I supposed to do? The Tribulation is here. The Anti-christ has taken charge. Apocalypse.” Exhausted by emotion, I lay in the dark, staring up. waiting to hear  Four Horsemen thundering down North Broadway. Instead, in the silence, I got my answer.


And that’s what I’ve been doing this week. I have been listening to the people who chose Donald Trump, and to their reasons. Here’s what I’m hearing. They felt disrespected. They felt ignored. Their childhood heroes were vilified. Their religion ridiculed. Their concerns dismissed. Instead of enlarging the tent, Liberals had made room for the disadvantaged by evicting the people whose ancestors built it. Did their numbers include radicals and bigots? Yes. Were some of then influenced by lies and propaganda? Absolutely. But the vast majority of people I’m listening to believe that their voice was not being heard and they do not want to be left behind. They believed the bus was headed for the ditch.

So they pulled the emergency stop cord. They hit the brakes.

So far, that’s what I’m hearing. The good people who voted for Trump, they aren't radicals. They aren’t extremists. They don’t want to own the bus. They don’t even necessarily want to drive. They just don’t want to be left on the side of the road while the bus rolls on without them.

This post is the first of two. I hope you'll follow up by reading ... and I'm Talking, Too.