(Photo: Members of Nashville in Harmony, an LGBT and Friends City Chorus, lead marchers in Nashville,TN, for the Women’s March on Washington, 01/21/2017. This picture was on the front page of The Tennessean and also in The New York Times.)
So, yesterday there was this little march. You might have heard about it. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 bejillion women (and men) around the globe came together to stand for equality and diversity. It was a beautiful thing.
I think it’s fair to say that most of the people who attended these marches were liberal and likely vote Democrat. But, I know more than one Republican friend who was also in attendance, marching proudly, passionately convicted about women’s rights and the rights of all others as well. What courage it must take in our current social climate to march in the midst of those with whom you politically disagree, but with whom you share a basic alignment of principles and core values. (Side note: If you believe that it’s impossible for Republicans to care about Civil Rights or Women’s Rights or even LGBT Rights, then you might just be living in as solid a news silo as you likely accuse the “other side” of living in.)
I attend a church where a significant majority of congregants vote Democrat. But, there are some Republicans in our midst. These are people I respect and with whom I feel a strong spiritual kinship. They are my tribe.
I’ve watched them sit quietly as statements are made from that place of assumption. You know that place, the one where we believe that everyone who shares one similarity with us will also align with everything else we believe. It’s the place where white people feel empowered to tell a racist joke in front of other white people. It’s the place where a co-worker tells a gay joke because surely they don’t know any of those people. And it’s the place where Democrats and/or Republicans speak out regarding political issues with unbridled confidence and, often, smugness. Because they assume ideological homogeneity, their tone naturally becomes self-righteous; unfortunately, what sounds like certainty to those who agree takes on the stench of pomposity to those who don’t.
These microaggressions happen constantly. We’ve all engaged in them at some point or another, most of the time unknowingly. It may not be a true sin of commission, but it’s not helping. We have to at least admit, it’s not helping.
Perhaps you say, “Well, tough shit. That’s the way of the world.” Or perhaps you say, “I can’t tip-toe around on egg shells being constantly concerned about hurting someone’s feelings.”
Well, to the first, I say: We are the way of the world. To the second, I say: You don’t have to if you stay focused on the principles and not the politics.
If we keep our eyes on the love and the equality and the justice, then following closely on their heels is the mercy and the forgiveness and the healing. If we remain focused on the bigger picture, we can stop examining the other side’s every twitch and tic under a microscope of judgment.
And if we can do this, we’ll create a new kind of politics. Politicians will begin to learn that it no longer works to divide us and to train us to demonize the other side. Their tricks simply won’t work on us anymore, and we might just drain that big ole’ swamp after all.
But, let’s still march now and then, ’cause, you know, that was fun.