I’m not a political person. I’m a heart person.
That’s not to say that I’m uninformed about politics. I’m not. To the contrary, I make it a point to be as informed as I reasonably can be on politics and I do it using a variety of sources, including the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN and the Fox News Network, so as to ensure that I am exposed to a broad spectrum of viewpoints, especially those I may disagree with. Thanks to various social media platforms, I’m also connected to thousands of people with highly divergent points of view, many of whom (thankfully) are not at all bashful about sharing their own hearts and political preferences, both publicly and privately. Over the past several months, many of those sources have expressed outrage over the results of the recent presidential election and a deep sense of sadness, fear, disgust, betrayal, and hopelessness around what until yesterday was the impending inauguration of You Know Who. In recent weeks, the emotions that infused news commentaries, social media posts, and water cooler conversations reached a fever pitch to the point that I was all but convinced that, when the clock struck 12:01 p.m., a black cloud would actually descend across our great nation and stay there for a long, long time. The thing is that didn’t happen – at least not for me. In fact, nothing about the heartfelt conversation I was having with a writer friend over lunch at 11:59 a.m. was any different at 12:01 p.m., nor I suspect were the conversations being had at the table next to us, in the restaurants across the street, in the lunchroom back at the office, or at the dining room tables in most homes across the country.
Some will likely say that my “white privilege” affords me the luxury of espousing the point of view that prompts me to write this post. Others will argue that I would feel very differently if I were a woman, a member of the LBGT community, an African-American or other economically or socially disadvantaged or oppressed minority, an illegal or improperly-documented immigrant, or a Muslim – to name only a few – and all would be correct. I am white and I’m none of the others, which is one of the many reasons I not only respect the entitlement of all who have the feelings referenced above to harbor them, I’ve made it a point to be as supportive and encouraging as someone living outside of their skin can be. I want people to feel it all. I like people who feel it all. And I really like people who feel it all and share, which brings me to the point of all of this – a point that I hope will engender the same respect and thoughtfulness: Nothing that happened at 12:01 p.m. yesterday changed the hearts of the people in our lives, in our country, and in the world who are committed to making a difference and are making a difference. It didn’t change the hearts of Glennon Doyle Melton or Rachel Macy Stafford or Brene Brown, who regularly and profoundly touch more lives in 24 hours than You Know Who will touch in the next 4 years. It also didn’t change the hearts of Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis, who is committed to inspiring and empowering young girls, or of those who have selflessly dedicated their personal and professional lives to holding the light and hope for others (Beth McGilley, Margo Maine, Angie Viets, Johanna Kandel, Carolyn Costin, Jen Nardozzi, Keesha Broome, Michael Berrett, and Tara Hedman – to name only a few). If anything, 12:01 p.m. prompted each of them to double-down!
As importantly, it didn’t change my son or daughter-in-law’s love for their little boy, Jake, nor, I suspect, the love you have for your children (or grandchildren), spouse, friend, partner, co-worker, parishioners, neighbors, relatives, etc. – and they for you. It also didn’t change the hearts or alter the conviction and tireless commitment that so many out-spoken advocates and recovery warriors have for those who have lost or temporarily misplaced their voices or are battling addictions and other demons. I’m thinking specifically about people like Joanna Kay, Laura Porter, Nikki DuBose, Alison Smela, Kirsten Haglund, Jessica Raymond, Shannon Kopp, Allison Kreiger Walsh, Jenni Schaefer, Amanda Magee, Claire Mysko, Brian Cuban – and too many others to mention (Apologies in advance to those I’m leaving out. I know none of you, including those mentioned, have any interest in being in the spotlight anyway). Finally, 12:01 p.m. didn’t change my heart and it won’t. I’m going to keep being “that guy”. The guy who one friend recently described as having “feminist tendencies”! The guy who feels it all and always has a minute (okay, an hour!). The guy whose needy heart bore him a gift for spotting hearts in need a mile away and who refuses to walk by them without making some effort to lighten their load, ease their pain – or simply offer the gift of noticing. The guy who leaves his phone on when he goes to bed in case of another’s late night struggle and the accompanying need for a word of comfort or encouragement. And I would urge all within ear shot of this post to make the same commitment. Not to all that stuff I just mentioned. That’s not for everyone. Believe me. Just the part about staying true to who you are and realizing that who may be in the White House will never matter nearly as much as what you have to give to those who are in your house, in your neighbor’s house and those who have no house at all. The gift of you – of your heart poured out.
Dylan was right, “the times they are a changin’”. The good news? The hearts, they ain’t. March on!