Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today, I Mourn. But I Will Not Linger Here.

I was not going to write anything. Especially not today, when it is all so fresh. What if I feel differently once emotions have tempered? (And, of course, I will. At least to some degree.) But writing is what I do. It's how I process and it's been that way ever since I learned to spell. I wrote a blog post the day after the elections in 2004, 2008, and 2012 (and after prior elections I'm sure I wrote a journal entry or passed a note in class or something). So I decided this occasion should be no different. And what I have to share is this . . .

I'm giving myself permission to take a couple of days to mourn. I cannot pretend that I don't need it. I ache for our country today.

I mourn that I held one child tightly in each arm this morning as they cried, after staying awake all night and wondering what I would say. That I had to tell them, "The president does not get to define who you are or what you get to do. Don't give him that much power. He is one man. You are kind and strong and worthy of respect. You will continue to be kind and deserving of respect and you will be strong for others. This family is going to show love more than ever. You will keep playing ball and running around with your friends and being a kid. None of that will change. I am sad, too. But I love America and the people who live here and I know that goodness is going to rise from this."

I mourn that I almost lost it when I held my daughter's face in my hands, looked her in the eyes, and made sure she understood that what our future president thinks of us means that she must all the more loudly proclaim the intelligent and powerful young woman that she is.

I mourn my belief that our national security is now at greater risk. That we now face more danger from threats both domestic and abroad. That our nation just voted for a greater chance of war. That we voted for an authoritarian regime.

I mourn that as a Constitutional conservative who values small government and liberty and the beautiful system that is federalism, I am struggling to figure out where I belong in this political landscape.

I mourn what this election appears to say about our nation's character -- that understandable anger at being left behind or ignored or used by the established ruling class for so long can justify voting for someone with a long track record of thinking very little of his fellow humans and who has shown a frighteningly minimal interest in, or knowledge of, policy issues.

I mourn that I have heard from black friends and Asian friends and gay friends who feel like the country they are living in today is different than the one in which they fell asleep last night.

I mourn that some people are gloating or laughing about how the election turned out. I mourn that some others would have done the same if the results had been different.

But I'm not going to stay in my grief. I'm leaving my points of concern in this post and then moving on. And I promise I won't be a sore loser or engage in name calling. There really is no part of me that wants to do so. I don't have any animosity toward Trump specifically. I recognize that he is just a symbol of a country with some hurdles to face. Besides, grief and anger create a helpless place to be and certainly do not lend to going forward. I've already been encouraged by so many today speaking up and proclaiming that love is still going to win, that this election must be countered by kindness. As one of my friends said, though, "This must not be just words. We must put our words into action."

With that in mind, here are some actions that I pledge to take --

Have a conversation with anyone who disagrees with me on any of the points for which I have written that I mourn today. I promise to listen.

Plant a flower garden in my backyard that will bring me great joy when it blooms next spring.

Make even more of an effort to talk with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, especially those with whom I assume I will disagree.

Visit different houses of worship with my children.

Celebrate that we live in a country in which I was allowed to vote for president without fear of persecution and that every four or eight years we witness a peaceful transition of power.

Put all the carts back in the holding stall at Target when I see they've been left scattered across the parking lot.

Wish for Mr. Trump to surround himself with wise counsel.

Build closer relationships with the growing number of refugee families who have come to call my church their home over the past couple of years. 

Let a driver in front of me when I'm on I-440 at 5:30pm and he comes zooming down the I-24 lane and cuts over at the last moment. However, I can't pledge not to honk at people who throw cigarette butts out the window. I'm not there yet and need some outlet for my driving aggression. 

Talk to strangers.

Choose one of my many friends who voted for Trump and buy her a drink while we sit and not talk about politics at all. 

Put at least one handwritten note in the mail every week.

Be more committed to attending the weekly meetings of the leaf collecting club started by a sweet second grader across the street from me, particularly because I'm the only registered "grown up" member and these kids are counting on me!

Stay engaged in in the political process from the local to the national level and speak up for causes in which, and candidates in whom, I believe. But . . .

I will not let politics consume me. No more talk radio and no more clicking on shared "news" links on the internet -- they are both poison. No more ending one election by starting a conversation about the next. 

Find more reasons to compliment people.

Spend more time playing basketball and board games with my children.

Hug more. Laugh more. Listen more.

There are Clinton supporters and Trump supporters and "Other" supporters who I love dearly. And I truly think we have more in common than we have to separate us, if we get past the labels and the assumptions and instead really get to know one another. I tell my children that most people are good, and I believe that sincerely. So that will be my focus. My kids and I are going to (try to) be the good, to look for the good, and to reinforce and thank the good whenever we see it. That will be our mission.

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