Wednesday, November 9, 2016

on politics and goodness

Sweet littles,

Today I hoped to be writing you a different letter. I hoped to be telling you that we had elected our first female president, a president that, though flawed, would reflect the values that we as a family hold dear. Instead, a man that I have a very hard time finding anything positive about won. You are too little to understand this all now (thank God), but you are not to young to understand the importance of love and kindness and goodness. Many years from now you'll be reading this, and I want you to know that your dad and I stood on the right side of history. I want you to know that the majority of American people stood on the right side of history, despite the results of the electoral college. And I want you to know that we have much to be thankful for and much to learn from this chapter in our nation's history.

First, please never take for granted the privilege into which you were born. Through no merit of your own, you were born to highly educated parents who both have a heart for social justice. Throughout your childhood and adolescence, you will be given every opportunity your heart desires. You will be given quality schools, extra help, exposure to innumerable extra curricular activities. You will be loved beyond belief by parents who have the luxury of flexible schedules that provide much quality family time. You are white--you are not a racial or ethnic or religious minority. Three of you are males, which still carries immense privilege in our society. Please, I implore you, recognize and acknowledge your privileged status. Be proud of your accomplishments, but always remember that you had a different starting line than many. And dear little ones, use your privilege to bring others up. That is my fervent prayer for you. Never, ever weaponize your privilege. Never use it as a tool to oppress. There is enough at this table for everyone, but all will not be served well until the privileged among us find ways to pull others up with our own fortune.

Second, protect and stand up for those who are different from you. There are no "others," as we are all children of God. God loves you and made you, but He also loves and made everyone else. When Jesus lived in our complicated world, he was consistently drawn to the marginalized. Today, in 2016, I see the marginalized in our society, and instead of loving them, many who purport to bear the image of Christ push them further to the edges. The immigrants. The Muslims. The lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people. African Americans. The poor. And so many more minority groups, scared and hurting from a world that would prefer to hurl stones rather than extending a hand. I pray that as you grow, you will always be on watch for who the marginalized are. Figure out who society is shunning, and then figure out how you can love them and serve them and walk beside them.

Third, never let your own economic well-being trump the importance of kindness and goodness, and never put your own finances above another person's basic civil rights. I hope you grow to be wildly successful at whatever you choose to do. Part of that, of course, is hoping that you are able to create a stable financial position for yourself and your family. But please know that money is never more important than humanity. I am so dismayed that people could vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobe because it would be more beneficial for their pocketbook. Good people can have differing views on policy, but good people cannot have differing views on racism. Racism, wherever it is seen, must be rejected. It can never be excused for the sake of economics. Never. I'll be honest with you, little ones, this is where I am struggling the most this morning. More than 50 million people voted for a man who was openly racist during and before this election cycle. Some people I hold dear voted for him. But I hold firmly that by voting for a racist you explicitly condone racism. I am heartbroken that so many people still harbor hidden (or not so hidden) views that your race or sex or religion make you more worthwhile than another child of God.

Finally, and this one is super important, never use your religion to try to legislate others' lives. You and God get to decide how you live your life, but that should not regulate how your neighbor must live. Remember that the separation of church and state is a good thing, a very good thing. It is a central tenet in our democracy, and you must never lose sight of its necessity.

There's so much more I could say here, but here's what matters most: love God, and love people. It won't always be easy, but if you filter your choices through this lens, you will be well-guided. Know that in our family and in our home, we will continue to stress love for all. We will still ask you repeatedly what's most important in life, and "being kind" will still be the answer. We will continue to look for ways to make our world more just for everyone. We will pray for softened hearts, softened rhetoric, and healing for our America.

We love you. We tried.

Mom and Dad

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