Dear Facebook Friends,
I hope we can remain friends.
Despite the differences in viewpoints, I appreciate those who bravely share their personal and political views on facebook. You may not know it, but I read your posts. I pray for those in fear, in pain, in mourning, and those who say nothing at all. I may not agree with everything, but I do think it is important we try to understand one another. I see so much hatred and hostility on my newsfeed. That, in part, led me to write this letter. Whether you agree with my opinions or not, I hope it at least serves as a refreshing perspective in the midst of so much negativity.
Wait a second… Many of you are probably thinking, who is this? Is this the crazy cat lady always posting pictures of some old cat named Mo? Yea, that’s me. And this crazy cat lady will no longer be hiding behind pictures of her adorable fur baby. You have to admit, he’s pretty cute though, right?
I’m Catholic. I hope you can try to understand my perspective in all this. I certainly don’t aim to speak for all Catholics. But, I do provide my perspective and hope this resonates with some of you.
I converted to Catholicism this past Easter. Describing this as “rocking my world” would be an understatement. I daily fight to re-align my conscience, reframing what I felt was good or right. This is hard, not because it’s untrue. On the contrary, it’s difficult because it often goes against the grain of what society deems true. Because doing what’s right can be very difficult. I don’t write this from a self-righteous point of view. I write it with humility, knowing I stumble; I fall. Please know my vote also came from a place of humility.
So here goes nothing. Below is some general commentary. Please be respectful in the comments section. This post is not meant to fuel more hostility.
I hope we can remain friends,
Please, can we stop the stereotyping and name-calling of individuals based on who they voted for? For many of us, who to vote for in this election was an EXTREMELY difficult, complex decision.
One we did not make lightly. One we researched for hours. One we prayed about. One we were secretly afraid we would not be able to make. You see, for many of us, the decision placed before us seemed nearly impossible. While, it can’t be summed up perfectly in two questions, I often thought “Do I vote for a candidate who has a pattern of making racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments; who literally wants to build a wall to divide nations?” Or “Do I vote for a candidate who advocates for the killing of the unborn; who has promised to appoint supreme court justices to promote many such injustices for years to come?”
I believe both candidates came with their share of serious flaws. The moral character of both candidates was in question. As this article (I don’t love the tone of the article, but it makes some good points) states, “there is no Catholic vote. There is only Catholic self-defence.”
Many of us did the best we could with the choices we had. Please consider this before judging anyone who voted for Donald Trump, or for Hillary Clinton, or for a third party. Instead of jumping to conclusions, try to understand where they are coming from. For starters, not everyone who voted for Clinton or voted for Trump strongly believes in all they stand for. Some of us were PRO-neither-candidate or PRO-this-one-might-bring-about-a-little-less-evil. Some of us felt it was more important to vote for a write-in candidate we actually believed in, than to sacrifice our morals.
I’ve heard many people call Trump a bully and fear our country will think it’s now okay to bully. I’m not going to argue this. But, can we please acknowledge that bullying has already begun all over Facebook? What do you think name calling and labeling of individuals based on who they voted for is? I’m sorry I even have to spell this out. But, no, not everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot or racist. No, not everyone who voted for Clinton is dishonest and corrupt. No, not everyone who voted third party, is careless by “throwing away their vote.” There are so many factors that go into a person’s vote. Please, let’s stop reducing a person’s identity and character to who they voted for. We are more than this. We are better than this.
Moral relativism and our acceptance of all opinions as truth, is actually dividing us.
In light of such a polarizing election, I think we all long for common ground, truth and to feel united. Unfortunately, our culture tends to take an approach of moral relativism: What is good for me is good and what is good for you is also good, even if those two “good” things contradict one another. But, this doesn’t work. Something can’t be both right and wrong. It is one or the other. I believe our societies’ moral compass isn’t just pointing to the right or to the left, but rather spinning around in circles, accepting every direction as the “true” north. I believe there is one truth to moral issues and just like a compass can only point north with the guidance of the Earth’s magnetic force, our internal moral compasses can only point to the truth when we allow ourselves to be guided by a more powerful, supernatural force, God. Without God in our lives, we are a broken compass. We allow societal norms to misinform our consciences. We try to create our own truths. But, there is no need for us to create truth. It already exists, as Jesus Christ.
So, when it came to voting, yes, I let my faith guide me in my decision. It is what I know to be true. These aren’t relative truths. These aren’t “do what you want and I do what I want.” These are universal truths. Some aren’t even easy or pleasant, but that’s not the point. They are true. They are good.
Changing policy doesn’t change hearts and minds.
Our leader and whatever policy changes occur is not going to fix us. We must have a conversion of hearts and minds. The same article as mentioned above discusses this much better than I:
“Without a Catholic counterstrike of charity, the Trump years will paint a veneer of conservatism and family values over an unchanged, unrepentant culture of greed, which, to no one’s surprise, will end with a greater hostility to the vulnerable and the unborn. The evils we decapitate by legal means will rise, two-headed, because of our inability to couple our victories with a culture and an economy of justice that roots these moral gains in the actual lives, hearts, and minds of the American people.”
Unless our morals and ideologies begin to converge, change will only take place on paper. The pendulum will eventually swing even further to the left to counteract right-wing agendas. This back and forth, passing of the baton to the “right side” or the “wrong side” will only continue to divide us.
You see, that’s why I don’t really care who you voted for. It’s what we do next.
The problem is rooted much deeper than who is our new commander in chief. It’s how we treat one another. It’s whether we choose to love, respect, and care for one another. It’s how we live a virtuous life. It’s whether we even have a desire to be united in the first place.
It means acknowledging hateful rhetoric and disagreeing with racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments and actions (yes, even if you voted for Trump). It means seeing some positive in the election outcome (yes, even if you voted for Clinton). Show the world that your whole identity is not reduced to who you voted for. Let’s shatter party lines by proclaiming the good we see in both candidates, highlighting injustices promulgated from both right and left, and loving thy neighbor no matter their vote, whether republican, democrat or other party.
I write this, extremely vulnerable, unsure if I will even share it with friends and family, let alone post to social media. I’m trying to write this to bring clarity, to bring love, to bring a voice. I hope I have been effective in doing so.
To my Catholic brothers and sisters, we also must be a united front. Picking and choosing which Church doctrines to follow only contributes to the problem of moral relativism. Do not be afraid to speak up, live out your faith through action, love one another, and intrigue others by your faith, making it contagious. There are almost 70 million Catholics in the U.S. That’s more votes than either candidate received. And yet, “there was no real Catholic vote here.” I hope in future elections there can be.