I used to proudly declare myself apolitical. I never read the news, never had a clue what was going on in the world. It just felt depressing to me, and I felt powerless against it.
Lately, that's changed. I've felt like it was important to be informed, that it was selfish of me to not want to be disturbed in my safe living room, surrounded by all my needs and comforts. I've been reading the news. I've been forming opinions. I've been posting haphazardly to Facebook. I've always been transparent; I couldn't hide the way I feel if I wanted to, and I usually don't want to. For a long time, I've preferred to be honest rather than cool. Sometimes that makes things awkward, but usually I feel like the exchange is worth it.
I'm not very good at this politics thing. A lot of my views are half-grown-- I spent so much time trying to avoid thinking about certain issues. I feel like I get on Facebook and start sharing things and then later wonder if it was a mistake. Did I read that thoroughly? Was that an accurate article?
One example is the recent Women's March. There are a lot of things that I identified with in the Women's March. Trump's scandal tapes hit a nerve with me. I've struggled with my weight and body image for my entire life. I've been told by boyfriends that they don't see a future with me because they think I'll be overweight when I'm older. I've been pressured to be more physically affectionate than I was comfortable with by ex-boyfriends. I've walked to my car with my hand on the pepper spray more nights than I can remember. I don't say this for pity -- I know that I'm lucky that those are all I've had to deal with. But it made me angry that people could justify this behavior in a man who is supposed to lead our nation -- a man who is coming into one of the most powerful positions in the world. I'm trying to raise sons who respect women, and I hope my voice is more important to them than those of the outside world, but I know that each time we justify this kind of talk as "just talk" or "boys being boys," we're occasioning more rape culture, more disrespect. I know it happens all the time, but that doesn't make it okay.
There are other elements of the March that I wasn't as on board with. I'm pro-life, and from what I understand the original March organizers didn't want pro-life supporters there. I still supported most of their platform, and as one of my favorite podcasters recently said, check all boxes politics doesn't work. There is no single politician or party that I agree with on every count. I don't support the pro-choice platform for reasons that would take far too long to enumerate here, but that doesn't mean I disagree with other statements made. I will also say that there are aspects of the march's platform that I simply haven't researched enough to form my own opinions yet. Suffice it to say, I thought it was worthy because it showed that we don't believe that hate speech is acceptable. I know there is more to it than that, but that's what it meant to me.
Now with the refugee ban, I am feeling sick at heart. This is one of the political issues I care most about. While I was in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time with immigrants: making friends, taking care of patients and their families. I hate that people are so afraid, so judgmental, that they would assume everyone from a country or religion is going to commit horrific acts. From what I understand, it takes refugees years to be approved to live here. The immigration process is already difficult and complex. And now we are going to block more people, just tell them that their suffering isn't our problem? It sits like a stone on my heart.
I want to do something to help, but I don't know what. I've made donations in the past. I pray. And I share Facebook articles, because it feels like something, even though it probably only stirs up contention -- has anyone ever changed their mind based on a Facebook article?
I think I need to get off social media.
Right now, I just want to curl up and cry. I know that my day to day life isn't affected by this, and I don't want to make it about me -- oh, I'm so sad, I'm so affected by the state of the world, admire me. It probably partially is about me, this desire to do something. I want to feel better -- I want the sadness of this to dissipate.
I don't want to imagine my children or my friends fleeing bombs. I don't want to picture my siblings or my parents huddled in tents, hoping that they have enough sleeping bags to keep everyone warm.
I don't want a world where people do this to each other.
I know there are arguments for Trump's order, even though I disagree with it and think it does infinitely more harm than good. There are those that say we must protect our own at any cost.
But when we wall up our safe havens, I think we wall up our souls, too.
I don't know a lot. I'm sure lots of you could argue circles around me, and I wouldn't have counter-arguments that held up to your satisfaction. I'm sure there are people that would say, who cares if our world is a little colder? We need to protect ourselves, even if the risk is small. I don't have proof that nothing bad would happen.
All I have is a conscience, and a heart that is hurting from far away and wishing to help. All I have is a belief in One who loved all of God's children, One who spent the early years of his childhood as a refugee in Egypt. He chose to love us all, regardless of the hurts he suffered on our behalf in the Garden. He chose compassion over safety, and they crucified Him.
I can't wash my hands of it. Willful avoidance is complicity.
I don't know what to do, and I'm sure these thoughts don't make much sense. I should have gone to bed an hour ago. I don't know if adding my voice to the chorus will do any good, or if it will only do harm. But for tonight at least, my voice is what I have to work with. So I'll use it to pray for justice and safety for those in danger, and to add my small pleadings on their behalf as a little drop in the ocean of the internet.
And tomorrow, I'll wake up and try to do good.