About 18 months ago, after some soul searching, I made a big change in my life. I decided to begin to write in the realm of politics. By nature, I find politics distasteful. In my public life, I normally avoided sharing political opinions. In some ways, that is likely a symptom that stems from my profession as a history teacher. When I stand before my students, I take great care not to steer them in any political direction. I take much pride in giving them both sides of controversial issues and letting them decide for themselves where to stand. That remains my policy in the classroom. However, with the emergence of the Donald Trump and Mike Pence ticket in 2016, I finally “outed” myself politically when I published an article chronicling my grave concerns about Mike Pence, who had just been the governor of my state, Indiana. That piece, entitled Why Mike Pence Terrifies Me, quickly became the first piece I’d written up to that point to “go viral.” The overwhelming reaction to it set me on a life-altering course that eventually led to me being a political columnist for Patheos’ Politics Blue channel. I went from being a political agnostic who went to great lengths to avoid discussing political topics at all to writing about them on a weekly basis as a small portion of my living. Why the change? What made me step out into the choppy seas of politics? It finally came down to the realization that history is watching us all and taking notes. As a nation, the Trump/Pence ticket dragged us far off course into uncharted waters. That was the catalyst to make me speak out. Our history will be recorded and studied by future generations. If they discover my voice at all, I want to make sure they know where I stood. I believe that history will not be kind to Trump era America and I want history to record my voice in opposition to it.
As a Christ-follower, I want history to record my voice as I call out far right conservative Christians who were not only largely responsible for getting Trump elected, but continue to be his most loyal support base, even as his administration spirals farther and farther into utter chaos. I want history to record my dissent and to take notice that I recognize the enormous chasm between the words and deeds of President Trump and the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. Not only do I cry out for history to hear, but also to be heard by my friends who remain bound to the idea that a Christian must vote for a Republican at any cost.I want history to see that I stood up for those whose rights as citizens are challenged by the Trump administration. I want to be on the right side of history when it comes to supporting the equal status of people with whom I may not share a common culture but do, indeed, share a common set of constitutional rights. I must be willing to stand up and speak out for those rights to be protected, even in cases where they may be in opposition to my religious or world views. I want history to know that I understood that is how the Constitution works.
I want history, should it take any note of me whatsoever, to see that, while I am not blind to the problems and challenges presented by immigration, I also am not callused to the needs of people trying to flee from parts of the world our president has so insensitively labeled “shitholes.” I want history to note that I understand that there are good people everywhere and if they need help in coming to a place where they can have a better life, I’d like to see us create an easier path to find it.
I want history to record my outrage that a significant portion of our nation’s citizens seem to be willing to put up with anything at all out of the White House so long as their 401K is doing well. The notion that, as long as I’ve got mine, it’s all good, seems to prevail in way too many American hearts.
I want history, if it should find any evidence of my thoughts in the rubble at all, to record that I spoke out against my president when he seemed to take delight in provoking an unstable madman in North Korea. I want it on record that I was outraged when the leader of my country made flippant remarks that hinted at the devastation he could wreak with the push of a button. I want it known for posterity that, as a student and teacher of history, I understood how completely inappropriate and dangerous those provocations were.
History is watching us all and taking notes.
If a future archaeologist uncovers your thoughts, what will they say about you?