When my daughters were younger, I used to not tell them who I was voting for in the presidential election. For many reasons, not all of which were entirely mature but I knew for sure that I did not want my girls to be on the receiving end of judgement and criticism for who their parents voted for (because it was happening in my little town with other young people). At 5 or 6 or 7 years old, this was not something I wanted them to have to carry (or dish out).
But we did talk a lot. A lot about morals and principles and what it means to to me to do the right thing and how that had everything to do with who I voted for. More than anything, I didn’t want my girls to assume that one of their classmates was unfortunate to have parents who didn’t vote for who I voted for. I didn’t want my opinion of which character seemed most suited to the office of the president to overshadow what I hoped I was communicating was the most important thing - kindness towards and respect for another person. And that there is absolutely room for all of us and our varied opinions and desires and dreams for our country.
In marketing they say that people don’t buy what you are selling them. They buy what they believe they will FEEL as a result of what you and your product are promising. I’m not sure that elections are much different and I find it harder than usual to listen, to keep my judgments in check, to not slip into hypocrisy of thought. I catch myself feeling tempted to be really intolerant of “intolerant” people, oblivious (ignorant?) to what the “ignorant” are afraid of, and defensive towards those who defensively attempt to set me straight or point out my ignorance.
But something magical happens - even if only for a split second - when I ask myself to listen between, behind, and around what’s being said in words and heated social media posts to try to understand what ache and dream and freedom and healing is there that my friends and neighbors are hoping to feel by way of who they vote for. I see tender hearts and courageous hearts and warrior hearts and healer hearts. I see humans - not objectified obstacles in the way of me getting what I want…even when I’m convinced it’s for everyone's good. I see humans deserving of all my love and respect if in no other way then in never, ever, ever criticizing the choices they make based on what their hearts long for.
I remember hearing once that no one does anything that doesn’t make sense if considered in the context of their whole life experiences - good, bad, and beautiful.
“For the past several months, especially the past several weeks, I’ve been watching and processing all that I’ve read and heard in the public light. You have not seen me make any political proclamations or judgments, nor will you see me do that today. Those conversations are best reserved for a medium which allows for eye contact, mutual respect, and back-and-forth dialogue.
But I am going to make a spiritual proclamation, and it’s simply this:
How you and I respond to election results (or any life-altering circumstance) says a lot about where we’ve placed our confidence. We have every right and reason to be concerned. These are trying times, trying circumstances. There is reason to be sober-minded, wise and educated about the issues and those leading us through them.
HOWEVER. It is one thing to be concerned, another to be consumed.”
Consumed. Being consumed by the political drama (and the self-righteousness I am prone to) is what I aim to protect myself from in all the noise and temptation to slip into forgetting the humanness of another.
Make no mistake. I have deep, unshakable convictions that are reflected on the beautiful, black and white ballot that is delivered to my mailbox every election season. I am more certain than ever that my vote reflects the values that are most important to me and the changes I most want to see for our country (as I trust yours does to) and that I can move about my world giving the kindness that only a heart at complete peace with her choice can give.
My decision to keep my convictions close to my heart is not cowardice or uncertainty.
It is absolute devotion to honoring and protecting my choice from those who would feel entitled to condemn me for it without seeing and honoring me first as a woman, a mother, a wife, a friend, a complex and wild creature is who far too conservative for her most liberal friends’ appetites and far too liberal for her most conservative friends’ tolerance. I know my weakness for being defensive and so I create a quiet and sacred space where my vote is decided and held and where no one can assume what kind of person I am based on who I voted for (because, without a doubt, there would be far too many holes in that assumption that would marginalize my wide and complex soul). Please know that I am, in no way, suggesting you should do the same. You are doing exactly what feels most true to you and I absolutely honor and respect it.
So in all of this I do want to tell you who I’m voting for. Because it’s where I have invested all my hope and dreams and confidence.
I’m voting for us. For you.
I know you love hard and true and have dreams and fears worth the most valiant protection and advocation. You’re the ones I know will reach in and out, without a second thought, when disaster strikes and when a friend is in desperate need and when someone needs protecting. I’m voting for you to be giant mountains of love and kindness and “how can I help?” and “you can do it” and “you are doing an amazing job”.
I vote for you. Every day.