I Respectfully Disagree

One of the challenges of parenting that I find simultaneously most draining, most hopeful, and most constant is finding the balance of teaching respect and allowing our daughters to feel and express their emotions. And believe me, there are so many emotions to feel!

img_3228From learning to share to a project not going a certain way to simply being too tired or too hungry, a day doesn’t go by without tears from someone. (And I’m including myself in that equation.) Most of the time, I want both Bea and Elle to know that they are safe and welcome to feel those feelings. I want them to know that they will always have a safe place here to process and vent and figure out their own views on life.

But we also practice socially acceptable behaviors. We practice rephrasing feelings respectfully and how to ask in a way that helps people understand our needs. We talk a lot about how we may not agree with a choice or a decision but that we have to respect the outcome. But I also want them to know that just because I’m their parent doesn’t mean my choice is always final or right or unchangeable. It’s intensive work, creating human beings and citizens of this world.

Since November, I’ve seen many admonitions for disappointed people to respect the President. That, once the election was decided, we should put away our disappointments and anxiety, forgive the divisive comments and attitude, and throw our support fully and completely behind the president-elect.

On Inauguration Day, I saw it again – Just give him a chance; We are called to respect the office of President; God calls us to pray for our leaders. These are all statements I absolutely agree with. I do hope that our nation is guided to a place of justice and reconciliation; I do respect the office of President and am so grateful we live in a nation that practices the peaceful transfer of power; I have and will continue to pray for wisdom for our elected leaders.

But respect and disagreement aren’t exclusive. I can respect the office of President and vehemently disagree with the tone and words he uses to describe those who don’t support him. I can respect the office of President and be dismayed at the fact that he would choose to threaten arts funding (which makes up .02% of the federal budget) while likely boosting military spending to $1 trillion. I can respect the office of President and give the President a chance while remaining a bit skeptical. The cabinet nominees alone have given me little reason to celebrate unity and reconciliation.

I can respect the office of President and still believe that America has always been great; that we can move forward rather than looking backwards. I can respect the office of President and speak out against discrimination and hate.

In fact, speaking out may be the best way to show my respect. I respect this office so much that to blindly follow; to support without thinking; to not give voice to the voiceless would be the greatest disrespect I could show.

We grow and we learn from each other. We are stronger when we truly take the time to listen and understand each other’s stories.

I have a feelings these upcoming years will be a lesson in learning to find the balance I’m trying to teach my girls. To learn to feel my feelings; to respect others; and to use my voice to protect and help those who will be deeply impacted by this quest for greatness.

Hopefully, through discussion and disagreement; through debate and conversation, we’ll work together to continue making this a great country.

How do you engage with others of differing opinions? Does debate energize you or drain you?

When Life is a Badger Fight

Look mom – my knee is all scraped because I got in a fight with a badger.

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Wandering Supergirl

I looked at Bea’s already scabbed and newly bloodied knee. It did, indeed, look as though she had gotten in a fight with a badger. The source was from biking too fast, taking too many sharp turns, and valuing speed over safety.

Yesterday felt a bit like waking up after a badger fight. I was (and still am) so very surprised at what America most values. I was so sure that love would win, that kindness still mattered, that we weren’t really afraid of the unknown. I was wrong. My heart hurts for those who are truly, deeply impacted by the values represented in this election.

Bea asked me if she could still be president when she grew up and I couldn’t honestly answer that question. Can she? As long as we are afraid, can a minority or a woman or anyone who is different from the status quo become president without serious repercussions? In the next thirty years, I hope something changes.

I know I’ll feel hopeful again. I know that this presidency won’t be our worst and that, in the greatest scheme of things the next four years can’t really undo all the progress we as a nation have made. I know that my hope is in something greater, something that will last far beyond any nation we live in.

But I’ll also take time to grieve. To allow myself to be sad that my neighbors don’t love each other well enough. That I don’t love them well enough. That we still live rooted in fear rather than hope. I’ll acknowledge those big, sad feelings.

And then, I’ll move on. But this time with a new perspective. With a keener eye for injustice and how I can actively be part of the change. I’ll vote even more consciously with my dollars and support causes that will reflect my values, far more than any candidate ever could.

I’ll remember that it is in our small, everyday moments that these ideals are lived out. That small moments lead to big changes.

Ever the optimist, Bea told me that if she can’t be president, maybe she’ll be a “wanderer.” I told her that sounded good. She’ll be just as likely to fight a badger, either way.

How do you vote with your dollars? And, how do you explain politics to the preschool crowd?

I’m Not Voting My Values

Bea pulled out Barack Obama’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters yesterday. As we were reading the story of what makes America great – from the kindness of Jane Addams to the bravery of Jackie Robinson and so many other heroes in between – I got a little teary.

img_2143In this season of division and other-ing, I think it’s easy to forget what this country is founded on. It’s not founded on people who look like me or believe the same things I do. It’s not founded on people of the same class or education level. The thing that makes America so great is that we are built on diversity. Without activists and pacifists; without leaders and followers; without people giving up everything and people using their wealth for good; without artists and businesspeople, we wouldn’t have much of a country.

Like a lot of people, I’m staying away from social media (especially Facebook) until next week. But when I do check in, I’m noticing quite a few friends explaining that they aren’t voting for a candidate but for values. Values that reflect their own; values that mimic their view of a perfect nation.

I already voted but as I was filling in those bubbles, I realized I wasn’t voting for my own values necessarily. If I believe in the radical message of Jesus, that the Kingdom of God does not look like me or my perceived values, then I need to vote for my neighbor. I need to vote for people who don’t look like me or who don’t have what I have. I need to remember the “others” as I look at candidates and amendments and propositions that will impact the lives of my neighbors far more than they will impact me.

On Sunday, our message was taken from Psalm 23. What struck me most was when our pastor, Jenny Morgan reflected on verse 5:

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows. (Bible Gateway, NRSV)

Jenny said that often we view this verse as one of division – that we’ll get an amazing feast while others look on. But, what if it means that we’re all at this feast together? That our enemies are invited, too? That the table is big enough and Jesus is welcoming enough?

I’ll be watching the election coverage tonight and praying for our nation. I know that the coming weeks will be ones of continued division, but I hope of healing and reconciliation as well. And I hope that, regardless of who our next president is, we will remember to love our neighbors.

Does your faith impact who you vote for? How do you take an objective view of issues?