Since November 8th, like many people of my political ilk, I have been in a funk. I haven’t watched the news since that night nor have I read anything other than twitter. My tv shows have consisted of Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, and Bob’s Burgers (and yes, How to get Away with Murder). I refused to watch anything that would remind me remotely of what was happening in reality. I needed a world where there was fidelity and coherence in the narrative, where I didn’t second guess the context nor the nature of the characters.
More truthfully, I was tired of watching the slow moving autopsy that was dripping from the pen of every progressive pundit in America. The “World is ending” screams and “OMG, Can you believe it” articles once comforting are now trite and overbearing. The sub-freezing temperatures that have enveloped Dallas (and my poorly insulated office) have stirred me to embrace the reality that the mourning of our dreams deferred and hopes unrealized is slowly turning into an arrogant bitterness that does not benefit our souls nor those issues that we proclaim to care so deeply.
Let’s cut to the chase: We lost. We lost for a lot of reasons. It was the perfect storm of crazy, unpredictable, human behavior. Yes, the media. Yes, sexism. Yes, the angry white male. Yes, the Rust Belt. Yes, Racism. Yes, the revenge of the Berners. Yes, the third parties. Yes, Voter suppression. Yes, Putin. Yes, sometimes dumb strategy. Yes. Yes. Yes. But it doesn’t change the fact that we lost. Now, I may be able to reach this reality more easily than others because as an Oakland Raider fan, I had to deal with the fact that we lost a football game based on a rule that nobody had used before (the infamous tuck rule).I am aware that that rule benefited a New England Patriots team that has been caught cheating at least three times but still has more rings than my Raiders. Yeah, reality sucks and life ain’t fair.
I am no Pollyanna. I have looked into and purchased firearms, survival kits, and passports. The election has left me shaken in my belief in the people that I called my friends. It is has left me confused, bewildered, and scared. The more I see the tone of my colleagues on the Right the more frightened and saddened I become. The very real fact that White Supremacists feel comfortable not only wearing their rhetorical sheets in public but there are efforts to (re)normalize their positions in the media and government makes me as a mother of three interracial children constantly on guard for the time when it will be time to leave my country.
But in the end, what this reveals is not only my very justifiable concerns about the President Elect ( I still can’t say his name) and his supporters but more importantly, it shows how my view of God was/is obscured by my obsession with my 21st century Uzziah. The opening to the 6th chapter of the Book of Isaiah illustrates where many of us find ourselves in the aftermath of HRC’s loss: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne.” We don’t know how long God was sitting there waiting to be noticed, but we do know it would not have happened if Isaiah’s political dreams had not died. The loss of his political ideal/concerns forced Isaiah into a new reality; a new action plan; and into renewed recognition that leaders come and go but our call to the cause of justice, righteousness, and seeking community with all people will never pass away. Isaiah could only hear God’s call to engage when Uzziah was taken away from him as a viable option.
Look, I am not saying give up and play nice. I am saying the absolute opposite–I am saying we must stop whining about Russia, Putin, Trump and angry white people and get to work. You and I cannot continue to sit in Uzziah’s throne room and bemoaning all the injustices of the world. In the midst of our disappointment, some things have not changed: Flint still has bad water; unarmed men and women are being killed by policemen; corruption and incompetence fill our legislative chambers; arrogance and irrelevance stalk our campuses; cancer still kills too many; women still make less; children still are going hungry; and the elderly without care. Is the President-Elect going to fix these issues? Probably not– in all actuality–hell no! But if this election showed us anything with its below 50% voter engagement, it is that too many of us are willing to whine about ushering in justice and equality for our causes rather than work for the needs of the community.
You and I cannot pick winners and loser in the cause of justice. We can’t decide that because rural America didn’t vote with us they have no need for healthcare, clean water or jobs. Many of the rights that we have today are courtesy of some of these same folks. Never forget that LGBTQ and Interracial marriage came on the scarred backs of Mildred and Richard Loving, some rural Virginians who might not have ever made it to one of our fancy cocktail parties. So rather than treating the folks of rural America like uninformed hicks unworthy of our time, let’s spend some time listening to their hearts.
I have a call. You have a call. And it is not to sit around throwing peanuts and bricks from the peanut gallery on facebook or twitter. It’s a reminder that in the end, there is something to the argument that WE must be the government we deserve: we must engage; we must run; we must lobby; we must vote; we must call to account, and we must hope.
You see, we forget that the promise of Advent is rooted in the ultimate reaffirmation of God’s love and presence in the midst of hopelessness and despair. I think it is summed up best in one phrase from Oh Holy Night, ” A thrill of hope..a weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” Before November 8th this was just a beautiful song, but now these words are prophetic. Because into our weary and war-torn world– that is tired of the hacks, fake news, broken promises, war atrocities, and unabashed cruelty-breaks the sign of God’s love embodied in a baby born to a family of refugees.
I still have my Clinton/Kaine sign in my front yard. I still have my ballcap, t-shirts, and bumper stickers on my car. I am not planning on removing them because they remind me that being engaged in the battle for a better world is the ultimate compliment to a woman I admire, and it is the charge that I have to keep.
*Photo Courtesy of PRI