Warning: this post is rambling, much like life seems to be right now.
Good—you’re still reading 😊
Seriously, I have been pondering my neighbors. Over the last three months, I have seen more of my neighbors than in the past 26 years I’ve lived here. I’ve talked with people (from an acceptable distance of course) that I’ve not met. We wave at each other faithfully. We make small talk about the weather and the nice day. All in all, I have been left with the sense that I live with decent people.
And then about three weeks ago on one of my daily walks, I passed a home—a very lovely, well kept lawn with old trees and flamingoes in the garden type of home—and I noticed that the owners had posted two *Trump/Pence 2020 signs on their lovely well kept lawn. Not one to hide my feelings, I stopped dead in my tracks and made large are you crazy faces and hoped the owner caught the look. I crossed the street so as not to contaminate myself. Six feet away from people at this time? Sure but that was not nearly enough for me to be from this set of lawn signs.
*[in case you do not personally know me, you should know that on a scale of 1-100 my rating of our current president and administration is about a negative 5000 give or take a few hundred.]
By the time I arrived back home, I had conjured up an entire narrative about these neighbors whom I do not know at all. I imagined all sorts of horrible things about who they are and what they support and would do to me if they knew how I felt about this fake president. [oops, those honest feelings snuck out again].
And then I sat down and took a deep breath. I know nothing about these people. Nothing, well except that they are supporters of Trump. I profess to believe that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. After I washed the deep layer of mud off my face, I needed to do some deeper soul searching. Aren’t we told to love our neighbors as ourselves? This is the law of love, the definition of being a disciple of Christ. The next day, I took another walk and intentionally walked on the side of the street with the lawn signs. I looked hard at the signs as the neighbors were not out [although the lawn had once again been neatly mowed] and breathed a prayer to help me see them as God’s children, to help me remember that they have the right to support whomever they choose. It is a mantra I repeat on my daily walk. It’s been an exercise in literally loving my neighbor.
It’s a good thing I chose to develop this practice because ten days ago, I took a walk in a different direction, just down the street from my house. I encountered a huge American flag on a pole in a neighbors yard. Underneath said flag was another very large flag with a huge Trump 2020 logo printed on it. I had a visceral reaction to this one. I took a picture and sent it to my children as I knew they would they would appreciate my horror. And the mantra came back—we are all God’s creation. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Of course, the even more difficult work I need to do is to love the cause of this all—D. Trump.
I confess that I do not know how to do this. I figure I need to find some means of developing compassion for him [and that may be as much as I can muster, truthfully.] That would at least be some progress.
Love your neighbor has taken on great significance outside of my little neighborhood musings and ramblings. Our society has erupted—rightfully so—at the video of George Floyd being murdered by a police man. His last words—I can’t breathe—have become the mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement. These words, this video, have spurred many people of many colors to say, “Stop!” The need to see all people as human beings with inalienable rights, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has not been taken to heart for hundreds of years in this country and Mr. Floyds brutal murder was the final straw.
There is deep soul work to be done by those of us who live in a world of deeply ingrained systemic white privilege. This work, this examen if you would, is painful, difficult but so very necessary. The basic principle at work in all of this—love of neighbor.
When Jesus was asked, who is my neighbor, he told the story of a man who was considered less than human in his society. This man gave of himself and his possessions to care for someone who hated him.
I need to pray on this, learn about this, talk about this, write about this. All are my neighbor. The Trump lovers and the Trump haters. The anarchists and the fascists, the liberals and the conservatives. The republicans and the democrats, the People of Color, and the white supremacists.
This is hard, hard work. It needs doing.