Re-visiting a blog post from 5 years ago

Re-visiting a blog post from 5 years ago

I struggled with what to share in this week’s column as it comes out on MLK weekend wrapped into Inauguration Day week. I’m still reeling from the events of Jan. 6. I welcome Jan. 20. I sifted through some old blogs of mine and found one from 2015. It startled me with its candor and self-reckoning, and the words seem innocent compared to current events. I condensed it extensively to fit here but felt it worthy to share, especially now.

Rev. William Sloane Coffin once said, “Faith is no substitute for thinking.” At the crux of tectonic movements in our country, we should take a look in the mirror and think through what’s in our hearts:

From 2015:I must say that I put most of the awful words I hear into a box with a lock on it. They are misguided, misplaced and misinformed letters that string themselves together incoherently, with religious thread to hold them tighter.

I started paying attention to them during the 2000 Bush/Gore hanging chad election. I listened to talk radio and was drawn into Rush Limbaugh and The Glenn Beck show. I tuned in every day when my kids left for school. I became frenzied, watching news shows and hanging on every word and letting those words soak into my blood. They became part of me and my rhetoric, and anyone who disagreed with me was uninformed.

When the 2008 election arrived and Barack Obama became the Democratic candidate, I was still in this frame of mind. My mind was a vast, scrambled diorama of soundbites from TV, radio and social media that yelled:

“He’s not really a citizen.”

“We demand his birth certificate.”

“He’s a Muslim.”

“He’s a socialist, a Marxist, a communist.”

When he won and the celebrations happened, all I could hear spoken around me was “People are celebrating like he’s their God, like he’s going to give them everything.” Four years passed. Then came the next election.

If ever there was a moment I wanted to close my FB page, this was it. Although I never put many political posts on my wall, I carefully watched what was posted. Vile, putrid lies were posted day after day, posts that simply took my breath away.

OK, deep breath.

I saw a different side to “religion” and what it meant in the political sphere. Over time, thoughts and words began to poke me in the side, convicting me. I read books; I read the Book. I pored over articles that talked about why the religious right had changed over the years, attaching itself to certain parties. I had an awakening, if you will, that called me to be accountable to what was in my heart and the political arena. I had been led by what was “always done,” and it only served to make my heart numb.

I nearly lost myself from all that was said during that 2012 election. My husband would tell me to stop reading the posts, stop letting it in. I would never again see people through the same eyes. The rancid taste that was left in my mouth would never wash away. I believe the vitriol would never have been quite as ugly and festering if he was just another white Democrat.

Last night I watched the 2015 State of the Union address. I saw a speech filled with things every president says on this day. They talk about accomplishments, things left to do, unemployment, healthcare, minimum wage, immigration and personal stories that bring the points home. I was moved by it. I live-tweeted it. I took it in.

What I saw on social media soon after made my skin crawl with goosebumps:

“I won’t watch that BS.”

“He’s a liar and a twister of words.”

“He’s evil.”

“He only talks about himself.”

Insert whatever Bible verse talks about someone evil.

When Obama leaves office and all the nonsensical remarks people make about him end, what will be left? What candidate/president will we have that will be everything you need?

And now I find myself here, in 2021, thinking through my thoughts contained here from the years 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2015. Have we found what we needed? Are we better or worse for the societal ills that plague us?

There is no one person who can be everything, only someone who can lead us well, without chaos. The past several weeks gave me great pause. We can change and evolve as humans, giving ourselves grace as we struggle, but before we can begin to mend, there must be acceptance of reality.

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