Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Reflections on the 2016 Election
(Big sigh.) I thought I was ready for this. I comforted people before the election saying, “the world will go on no matter who is elected on Tuesday,” and “no matter how the vote turns out, we must continue to trust in God, to trust in our country and to trust in one another.”
Last night I cried myself to sleep lamenting that our next president would not be someone I could consider a role model for my children and myself. My husband comforted me saying, “Who are we to think we have the right to a president who is a perfect role model for our children. That’s our job.” I went to sleep grateful for my husband who respects women, daily helps me be a better feminist and enjoys learning from and working alongside people who are different from him, whether it be from race, religion, economic differences, orientation and more.
As I awoke to article after article reporting the election of Donald J. Trump to be our next President of the United States of America, I cried in sadness for all of those who have been insulted and feared for their safety in this country throughout his campaign. How could I face them? How could I face those who elected him? How could I preach to a congregation which more than likely is as divided as our nation?
Tonight I’m giving a short lecture on Hildegard of Bingen. I was filled with joy to think about how it would feel to talk about her on the day after the first woman president was elected. As I sat composing my final thoughts this morning, I was filled with dread, considering the person elected degraded women with violent language and even testified that women shouldn’t be in the military. The anxiety and sadness enacted my morning sickness, so this pregnant pastor has been vomiting and nauseous all day.
So, I turn to my writing to mark down my thoughts for my child to be and my fellow Americans. One reality is incredibly clear today. We may think we have come so far in creating a better world, but somehow we continue to speak only to and with those who agree with us. Try as we can to truly listen to one another intentionally with our whole heart, it doesn’t work unless we sit at table with those who disgust us, those we don’t understand, and those we fear. We will never grow past this division, unless we all sit at the table together and really talk, really listen, and prepare our hearts to be changed and see things in a different light.
We’ve reached a point in our culture where every demographic feels oppressed. From refugees and immigrants to muslim Americans born and raised in this country, from Native American tribes on the reservation to the African Americans working twice as hard to climb up the ladder and provide for their families, those we expect to feel like we are making progress, they still feel like our system is broken and law enforcement continue to face challenges building relationships. Caucasian men and women, with big houses, stable retirement plans and work that fulfills their passions, you would expect them to feel safe and satisfied with their life. And yet, they also feel oppressed when they feel their voices are not heard, when they feel their rights might be taken away, when they feel their tax money goes towards programs that help people who make mistakes they have avoided and when they make judgements about others without ever talking to them.
President Elect Trump promises to be a President for all of us. Can it be done? Will he do it? Will he listen? He has picked up on a voice almost no one else was listening to before and throughout the election. Will he listen to more voices?
As I speak about Hildegard tonight, I am reminded that she declares the visions came to her from God for all people, to guide them to a higher way of living. She spoke with authority to the people with authority, and she never apologized for it.
I resolve to continue my work to make the hidden seen and give the unheard a voice, and I pick up the challenge of Hildegard to continue provoking and confronting those who are ignoring their brothers and sisters of humanity and especially those who ignore the plight of our fellow Americans. May we all soften our hearts and choose to sit at table, even when it makes us want to run away and vomit, and may we experience the Light of Life as we meet together.
“And as the power of God is everywhere and encompasses all things, and no obstacle can stand against it, so too the human intellect has great power to resound in living voices, and arouse sluggish should to vigilance by the song.” translated from Scivias, Hildegard von Bingen.