Friday, January 27, 2017

Taking Sides

Over the past however many years, even as I've stood up for people on the margins and called senators and shared opinions and information, I've still always maintained that there is a way to see both sides. There is a way to bridge the divide. There is a way to meet at a crossroads.

The truth is, that meant I was willing to maybe overlook or tone down someone else's racism or homophobia. In the interest of meeting them where they are and hoping to be an influencer to show them a different way.

The truth also is that I was scared to ruffle feathers or make enemies or have people not like me. And I was scared to admit that hate is very real. That racism is a thing and white privilege is a thing and violence against women is a thing and hate crimes towards gay people are very real things. I wanted nothing but love and peace and kindness.

I am seeing a lot of people trying to find that middle ground now, in the Trump era. And it's admirable. Heck, I still long for love and peace and kindness.

But I'm not there anymore. I can't just focus on those lovely things and brush aside or hide from the realities that are around me every day.

I'm too angry and fed up, I suppose. I tried to be all nice and crossroadsy before. And there are certainly days when I'm willing to be more patient than others. But there are fewer of those days.

Part of me wants to hear the "other side." But part of me is fed up with giving the other side a voice, a chance, a pulpit, a pat on the back.

I don't think it's time to bridge the divide. I think it's time to take sides. Trump isn't drawing a line in the sand - he is blowing up a canyon between people in this country. If I try to stand on both sides, I will fall in.

I'm usually very willing to see a lot of gray.

But when it comes to how we treat human life and how we value one another, it's pretty damn black and white.

I'm not saying I won't have the conversations. If people want to engage and truly learn and are ready to leap across the divide to at least visit, I'm all for it. But I'm done tip toeing around in "enemy territory." Again - been there, done that.

This also does not mean that I am cutting people out of my life or anything like that. There are people I love dearly who hold very different values than my own. I will keep loving them. And they will keep loving me. But the divide is there. And it's real. The divide changes how you perceive someone, changes how you hold them in whatever level of esteem.

And maybe this Trump divide means that some of those people who had been at the crossroads are now standing on the edge of this side of the divide - because they may not fully understand it but they can feel and see that Trump is not good for humanity. But it's going to take a lot of the crossroads people to make an impact by choosing their side.

And maybe there are people hiding on that side of the divide - that wish they could be over on this side but they don't want to cause pain or be picked on or be tossed into the divide.

Being silent is a privilege. Being silent means you are allowed to turn the other cheek and love your enemy. We like those platitudes in the Bible. We like being able to quote them and hold them up like a shield. Pointing out the rosey, sunshiney parts of our faith.

It's time to find your voice, folks. And use it. The Jesus I read about in the Bible did love people. But he loved them radically. He loved the people that others considered disposable and less than. He didn't preach that everyone should embrace the Pharisees and try to better understand archaic Jewish laws.

He taught a new way. A vastly different way.

This is about people believing they now have license to be openly hateful. Harmful. This is about homophobia and racism and sexism. How those things play out take different forms for different people. But we're at the foundation of the issues. The baseline of choosing the value of people or choosing the value of power.

Choose people or choose power.

That's it. And with that as the divide, I choose people.

Jesus chose people over power. He admonished the powerful and the rich. He healed the sick and broken and embraced those who were "less than."

So I'm taking the side of people. Specifically the people who need someone to stand up with them, for them, beside them. Black people and brown people and gay people and refugee people and immigrant people and under 18 people and female people and disabled people and non-english speaking people and poor people and....

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