My life could so much simpler–so much less stressful–so much more carefree.
I live in Indiana. There are many things I love about my state. There are many things about it of which I am proud. But when it comes to politics, Indiana almost always breaks my heart. My state just might be the deepest red of any north of the Mason-Dixon Line. When it comes to politics, Indiana bears a much closer resemblance to Mississippi than Massachusetts. I guess it should come as no surprise that, when the KKK reached its apex in the 1920s, Indiana was one of its biggest hotbeds for membership and home to its Grand Dragon, D.C. Stephenson. I like to think we’ve long since put those days behind us, but sometimes I wonder.
I haven’t written much in the last 10 days. Frankly, I’ve been too depressed. I should have been writing in response to the midterm elections. After all, though the Blue Wave may not have been the tsunami some were hoping for, it did bring major change to the national political landscape. The House of Representatives is now in the control of Democrats, bringing critically needed balance to Congress. That should have excited me more, but I live in Indiana. Indiana broke my heart again. We were one of those states where the Republicans flipped a seat in the Senate. In a year where it felt like the whole nation was ripe for change, my state got even redder.
Sometimes I wish I were a conservative Christian like the biggest segment of my neighbors and friends. Life would be so much easier for me if I were more like them. For a while, I was fooling myself into believing that they were really more like me–that they were fed up with being manipulated by politicians and brainwashed into believing that to be a Christian means to vote Republican at all cost. I fantasized about my friends and neighbors secretly seething at how they were being played and I visualized them going to the polls to use the power of their secret ballot to make a stand against hate and bigotry. Then the election results began to come in and I realized that most of them simply doubled down and drank the red kool aid again. It really hit me hard. I couldn’t really take joy in the national results knowing that the people closest to me, the people I live among and spend most of my time with, were apparently so hopelessly bound by their unholy marriage to a political party.
It would be so much easier if I could use my distaste for abortion and vote based upon that one issue–if I could ignore all the ways that Republican policies make life harder on babies born into traumatic situations and feel certain I’d done God’s work by seeing to it that those pregnancies were carried out to the end–I could sleep the sleep of the just.
It would be so much simpler if I could ignore what Jesus had to say about loving our neighbors and support the building of a wall to keep them out–if I could look at concentration camps full of frightened children separated from their parents and say, if they came here legally they wouldn’t have to worry about it–I could look my friends in the eyes and know we were on the right side of history and right with our God.
It would be so satisfying to join with a multitude of my friends and neighbors in decrying the peaceful protests of black athletes who are trying to bring attention to injustices they see in their communities–if I could post conservative memes featuring people like Ben Carson or share columns by Thomas Sowell to prove that I’m not a bigot. How nice it would be if I could convince myself that there wasn’t a widespread problem except for people not responding properly to an authority of whom they are terrified. What a weight would be lifted from me if I didn’t have to be cognizant of my white privilege. What a pleasure it would be to trust that the American playing field was truly level.
Sometimes, living where I do, it feels like I’m the only blue jelly bean in a jar of red ones. Of course, that’s not the case. I have friends and family who are in the same boat as me. We all feel it, though–life would be a lot easier here if we drank the red kool aid, too.
Sometimes I wish I were a conservative Christian. It would make things a lot simpler on me.
But life isn’t meant to be simple.
Indiana may go on breaking my heart, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to stand firm in my convictions.
Life could have been easier for Jesus, too. My understanding of the Gospels leads me to believe that his state broke his heart, too.
I just wish more of my friends and neighbors could see that.