I apparently decided today that my life was just too easy and that I’d like to offend everyone I know and lose all of my friends. Clearly, the best way to do that is by talking about politics and religion and thus, I’m going to do both all at once. Hooray, me! I’m sure I won’t regret this. I only ask that you finish reading before you start arguing with me in your head.
I believe that the tiny little flicker of a heartbeat that I saw at 8 weeks pregnant (6 weeks gestation) was a life distinct and separate from my own. It was a human I had been given the privilege of protecting and nurturing to birth, not a collection of cells. I cannot imagine taking that life on purpose because it was scary or inconvenient.
Having said that, I also think that abortion should remain safe and legal in the United States because there is no practically enforceable way to allow for those “rape, incest, and life/health of the mother” exceptions the majority of Americans seem intent on allowing.
So, there we go. Four sentences and I have no friends.
On Marriage Equality:
I am a Christian who has read the Bible many times and I certainly cannot say that my Holy text is pro gay marriage. Of course, it also doesn’t mention gay marriage at all because that was not a thing in the first century A.D./C.E., just like it doesn’t mention online dating, credit card use, and genetic cloning. We followers of a faith have to feel our way through practical modern concerns sometimes.
I don’t actually have much internal conflict over whether or not marriage should apply to all Americans because I don’t think it’s the government’s business who any of us are married to in the first place. I don’t need their permission to love or live with anyone. My government is not my God.
I also know and love members of the gay community who are loving, kind, human beings that I want to see live full, joyful lives. They do not seem to be destroying the fabric of society as I see it.
And, frankly, I know and love a lot of friends who are divorced and the Bible isn’t a big fan of that one, but I’m still happy to see all of you and have you over for dinner and wish you joy and peace without trying to render your marriages void.
Seriously, no one is ever going to talk to me again.
On Climate Change:
The world is hotter, on average, than it has been in human existence. Which is measurable over the last 200 years because humans have been writing it down consistently.
But here’s a nuance I don’t feel is covered all that well in the media: people who are “against” climate change don’t necessarily argue the facts–they argue the conclusions gleaned from those facts.
They tend to think that, yes, the world may be hotter, but that it’s a normal part of the cycles of the earth and that mankind will not die off until God decides we should. Thus, the statements of climate change scientists are used for political gain. It may not seem like much of a distinction outside of this group, but it is the kind of thing that leads to the mistrust of the media.
Personally, I believe both in a final judgment and that we are also highly likely to be used as agents of our own destruction. And at no point do any Biblical stories have the moral “continue with your consumptive excess and ignore the warning signs of nature.”
So I both think that the world will one day end no matter what we do, but that we should also work really hard to keep that from happening. Life is struggle.
My Point in Scaring Off All of the People
I am a white, well-educated, suburban, Southern, Christian, stay-at-home mom who homeschools her kids and I voted for Hillary Clinton.
I am a political unicorn.
I don’t fit neatly into a side and, based on all of the “I don’t agree with everything” comments I’ve seen during this election cycle, you probably don’t, either.
You, probably, have one or two issues that are your “thing” and you voted based on those. There’s a really good chance you might be a political unicorn, too.
For my Fellow Unicorns:
If you know there’s some common ground that you can find with someone usually on the opposite side of the political aisle, lean into that one.
Maybe you’re a gay woman who regrets an abortion in your past.
Maybe you’re a conservative voter who wants to keep NAFTA.
Maybe you’re a religiously devout African-American who opposes gay marriage, but your outrage over police brutality knows no bounds.
Maybe you’re an immigrant who is concerned about government overspending.
Maybe you’re an avid gun enthusiast who only has health insurance from the Affordable Care Act.
We are only going to see more division and pain unless we each lean into what we have in common. You know that phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows?” This is when that matters.
You are not going to get any of your top priorities addressed without some people with whom you disagree about something else…and that something is probably also important to you.
Pick something you think you could actually agree on with someone who offends you and try to work together for that one thing. I think it will help with how we fight over all the other topics because we’ll have more faces to go with ideas.
For People who Hate that I Called them Unicorns:
If, so far, you think that I am a naive idealist and that this is ridiculous and that there are REAL PROBLEMS that no one is paying attention to and that just building bridges won’t be fast enough…I have this thought for you:
No one who disagrees with you is listening to you.
If your political philosophies are based on your religious beliefs and you hold them to be deeply dependent on your relationship with your God, that is a good and righteous thing. If you have no other logical reasons for your political positions, however, the other side will never listen. Why would someone who does not believe in your God remotely care what He says about their sex lives? Why would they listen to you when, from their point of view, you do not care at all about them?
If you are not a person of faith and you have well-versed and humanist philosophies upon which you base your decisions, that is a good and righteous thing. But if you continue to disparage people of faith as being oppressed or brain-washed or ignorant, you will never create effective change. Every culture in every time period in every location throughout history has held some sort of faith. Discounting faith in political discussions prevents those who have a faith from valuing your opinion because it feels as though you discount that which is most important to them.
But We’re Too Far Apart
Yeah, I know we’re really far apart. We don’t agree on issues, we don’t agree on solutions, and we can’t even agree on whether or not facts are, well, facts.
I know people who believe that if you see an injustice it is your right and duty to fight, violently if need be, against that injustice. We are, in fact, a nation founded by such people.
In modern day terms our Founding Fathers were the rebels of Aleppo, railing against Syria while the Russians keep bombing. Except, of course, everyone had muskets, the British were Syria, and cold Hessians without tactical air power were the Russians. It worked out rather better for us than it currently is for Aleppo, but I digress.
I know people who believe that it is our duty to fight for change within our current systems. They believe that slow, measured change is what keeps us from devolving into anarchy.
I know people who believe that the root causes of our political problems are not the states of our states, but the states of our souls. They believe that the only way to affect lasting change is to change the hearts of men.
These differences are why we see so many arguments that look like this:
How can you protest about women’s rights when you’re not doing anything about human trafficking?
That’s great that you suddenly care about systemic racism, but where have you been for the last 20 years?
How can you be so offended by abortion, but still be for the death penalty?
There’s a passage of the Bible about believers being called “many parts, but one body” that I’ve always loved. The gist of it is that everyone has a different part to play, but all are necessary. Pain in one causes pain to the whole. And all the parts head the same way even if they don’t like it in the moment.
I’ve always thought of our nation as having to work that way, too. Politics get messy. We have to make actual decisions and allocate actual dollars and affect actual human beings’ lives. My top priority is not likely to be your top priority. My deeply held most important topic in the world may feel diametrically opposed to yours.
A democracy is only succeeding if most people are satisfied enough not to rebel. Which also means that most people are fairly dissatisfied by something.
Well, That was Depressing…but wait…
We can all live with what look like incongruities to others because we are all looking at life from a variety of points of view. We are the sum of our own life experiences and beliefs and it is almost impossible to truly see the world from another person’s point of view.
I’m fine with cursing, but only if it’s funny. I homeschool my kids and write about parenting things, but yesterday full-on yelled at one of them that I was willing to quit. Quit what, I’m not sure. Motherhood?
I am a deeply flawed human being and an armchair philosopher at best, but I know this:
We are better humans when life is lived together.
We need our fiery citizens to bring attention to causes and keep us from a slow slide into bloat and complacency.
We need our slow-to-react citizens to keep the violence to a minimum.
We need our clergy and philosophers to encourage us to look up and in…in addition to out.
We need a nation of people who can acknowledge that, given a different set of life circumstances and beliefs, I might have come to a different conclusion.
The push and pull of the crazy and the steady, the spenders and the savers, the protesters and the acceptors is what creates the entire body in which we all live.
Be the Unicorn
I want there to be more unicorns.
People who continue to fight for their topics, but do so with respect for others.
People who post on social media about their concerns, but without insulting anyone else.
People who represent their faiths, but without making it sound trite or meaningless to those watching.
Because I like action items, I came up with the following ones for myself:
- I will continue to post articles and information about political topics that concern me on social media. The body part I live in kind of likes to argue, so I’m going to lean into that. I don’t want to tap out of the conversation.
- I will not post anything that is snarky, pithy, or mean just because I find it funny. I will share those things with Jay and we will giggle, but not on social media. I care too much about the topics that matter to me to alienate the people I’d like to listen to my ideas.
- I will try to participate in local politics. I will write to my senators and congressman with my concerns and not just to the internet. It will be hard. And my congressman may be headed to the President’s cabinet, but that just means I’ll have more opportunity to participate. I think.
I’m going to be honest, I’m still pretty nervous to hit publish on this one. I know I have friends who will be disappointed in me. This is already really long so I didn’t delve into the details of the controversial topics I mentioned and there is plenty of room for misinterpretation and conflict in each one. And the only other time I ever talked about a personal political stand I got scary responses and comments and vowed never to do that again.
But I’m going to be brave and try anyway. I’m going to leave in the parts that will be awkward to talk about because we have to be honest with each other to work together on controversial topics.
I’m going to be the unicorn. Unicorns unite. It’s in the prefix.