I actually started this blog post two days ago, wrote a paragraph, and closed the browser. Sometimes it's tough to get through something when I have the seed of an idea, but not the flower.
Five minutes ago, I watched this Heineken ad and the rest of the post came flowing out of my fingers.
Am I the only one who got choked up?
There is no question that the last few months in America have been really hard. Frankly, I've been nervous to share the opinions that I have because I don't want to alienate anyone. I have such a deep love for my people (who come from all walks and political leanings) that it's scary to type out a few lines here or there that could convey offense, lack of loyalty, or, even worse, judgment.
But here's what I think:
In these last months, the darkness has been thick. It's felt suffocating, frightening, anxiety-inducing. People have sworn off cable news as a means to protect their sanity; they've stopped checking social media because of the divisiveness and the blindness that we've all shown, at one point or another, toward the other side. The Bad has risen up like twists of smoke, curling around our heads, seeping into our mouths and minds, stealing our empathy, our kindness, and our willingness to listen to one another.
In Christian and Hebrew scripture, honey is often symbolic of abundance and of grace. In Psalm 81, David writes from God's perspective: "...with honey from the rock, I would satisfy you."
Honey from the rock?
Goodness, abundance, grace, from an impossible place.
As it is foolish to try and convey someone else's experience here, let me only speak for some specific experiences I've had - my own goodness in an unlikely time:
- First, I've noticed a lot of embarrassment and anxiety in my heart. A lot of it comes from the fact that I disagree with and am broken hearted by many of President Trump's choices of words, of actions, and, often, of inaction. (I'd like to say here for clarity that I view myself a moderate voter who has considered voting for a Republican presidential candidate in the past, and that my feelings about President Trump do not reflect my feelings about the Republican party or conservatives in general.) In listening to my friends of color, I now understand that that fear and anxiety is something that people of color, gay people, immigrants, and other marginalized communities have been experiencing for a really, really long time. I'm living a tiny, tiny fraction of it as a straight, White, upper-middle class woman. This has been an education for me, one I'm sorry it took me so long to experience, and, sadly, one that only was realized when things affected me directly.
- I've watched a very, very close friend of mine, a woman who voted for Trump, fix her "I Voted" sticker to her bathroom mirror. When I asked her about it, she said, "It's to remind me to pray for our country, for our President, but specifically to remind me to be an active citizen because I am on the hook." Her civic activism in showing up and voting in any election - municipal and national - and her fierce commitment to what it means to love America - is something that I can learn from.
- Friends and family members of mine have risen to action in ways I am awed by: organizing marches, becoming lobbyists, writing articles, and educating themselves on the issues that matter to them - many for the first time. It is not a coincidence that their activism has been motivated by a feeling of necessity. Out of an unstable time, a crop of latent leaders has risen.
- People are talking to each other. Real conversations. I've had several with people I openly disagree with that didn't end in resolution. No one said, "You're right." But we did say, "I understand." We still disagreed. And we hugged afterward.
Listen, I find the idea that we needed a low point of national morale and misunderstanding in order to come to a place of reckoning to be as trite and off-base as when someone looks at the mother of a dying child and says, "Everything happens for a reason."
The alternative approach is to study our situation and wonder, "What can be good here?" Sometimes the answer is, "Nothing."
But these days, the answer is not, "Nothing."
If a transgendered woman can sit across from a man who has just insulted her very way of life, and if that man can look across the table and acknowledge the woman sitting in front of him, then we damn well better be able to stop hiding people on our Facebook feeds who disagree with us. To do so is the very thin-skinned behavior that got us to this point, where each of us lives in an echo chamber of reinforcement; where dissenting opinions are met with outright rejection instead of curiosity.
What sweetness there is in disagreement. In learning. In feeling ashamed of what you've just said. In teaching a lesson with kindness. In learning a lesson with humility. We all have something to give and we all have something to figure out.
And we're sure not going to do it by talking into a mirror.
Sit with me. Teach me something about what it's like to be you. Help me understand your position. Give me the gift of your explanation, of your time, of your patience.
I am ready to draw the honey from this rock. Or, if you want, beer.