If we’re going to be friends, your vote really does matter…

45485641_1746095872183715_6350298731287412736_oNow that we’re in an election cycle, there’s an image floating around the interwebs advocating for friendship across politics. On the surface, this is a great idea when candidates relatively agree on similar end goals: like freedom or upward mobility, but perhaps not in the means – progressive vs regressive taxes. I may not like the other candidate, or their political party. But we’re all trying to build a better society for ourselves and our children. We’re both adults. We can agree to disagree and still be friends, because our friendship is more important than politics.

Except when your candidate wants to, say, remove my citizenship because my grandmother was from Mexico. Or wants to deport my uncle because he’s Muslim. Or wants to take away my sister’s right of choice. Or wants to erase my partner because they’re transgender. Or wants to disenfranchise my brother because he’s Native American. Or wants to segregate my father because he’s African American. Or wants to kill my cousin because they’re Jewish.

When your vote comes at the cost of significant human life, we’re not friends anymore.

“But I don’t believe in any of that! I’m not racist! We’ve been friends for years and you’re brown!” you say. “I just voted for the guy because I agree with his economic policy. You’re being really petty and judgmental.”

Sure friend. I hear what you’re saying. We can totally agree to disagree on economic policy. But you also voted for a racist/fearmonger/bigot/misogynist/homophobe. Which is a deal breaker. What you just demonstrated was that you put politics ahead of our friendship, and that while you may not be any of those hateful qualities, you’re willing to let them slide because they benefit you. If we’re going to be friends, and adults, then we are supposed to have a relationship that supports one another. That cares for one another. That will show up for one another when we really need help. And you voted for the guy who wants to kill people like me, all because you wanted lower taxes. Which tells me that we were never friends in the first place.

You see, friend, how you vote doesn’t just tell me about your politics. It tells me about what kind of person you are. What the foundation of your ethics and morals looks like. And when you vote “pro-life” and at the same time ignore the racism, the hate, the bigotry, the violence, and the death, you tell me all I need to know. That we were never friends. Because politics and party really were more important to you than my wellbeing; and my actual life.

Being an adult means having healthy boundaries which sometimes requires removing people from my life who are toxic and destructive. It means having firm ethics and morality rooted in empathy and compassion. It means choosing to hold people’s worth and dignity above petty politics and disagreements; in seeing your humanity and loving you and showing up for you when things get hard. Being an adult is having the courage to say: “No more!” to evil, even at great cost. Being an adult means making hard choices, like say, voting against your party when their candidate supports putting immigrant children in cages at internment camps.

But I don’t hate you. I’ll still show up for you if you need help. I’ll say hello at work and if we run into each other during the holidays. I’ll still uphold your dignity and worth, even when you don’t uphold mine. Because that is what myself, as an adult, am called to do; be kind to the people who hate me. And to know when to walk away.

Feelings. Complicated, they are.

i-woke-up-like-this-36I was infected with some grumpiness yesterday. It started around 1:30pm with me feeling lethargic and then turned into a general irritability. It’s like those commercials where that little grey cloud follows somebody around everywhere. Except my little grey cloud only comes by once in a while, unannounced and usually drunk. The frustrating part is I haven’t figured out why I’m grumpy, which makes me grumpier.

It’s not something that happens often. But when it does, the effects linger. I don’t like how it feels; this unexplained emotional and physical frustration. But it’s crazy to think that I’m immune to “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” I am human after all. I’m allowed to be grumpy once in a while.

baby led weaning
I’ll admit, when this was happening, it was hilarious.

It’s the not knowing that frustrates me. One thing I’ve been trying to do, as a spiritual discipline, is be more mindful about the what and why that I’m feeling. I want to be more aware of what is going on in my mind and body. If I find myself feeling frustrated (say, because we’re introducing solid foods into Toby’s diet and his eating style doesn’t play well with the freshly cleaned floors on which I worked pretty hard) I can check in with that frustration, name it, acknowledge it, and then come back to center.

Of course, easier said than done. While I’m finding this technique works most of the time, sometimes the feelings linger. Like right now. Why am I feeling grumpy? It is because of the stress I’m feeling looking for a new job? It is because of the multitude of demands on my time and attention from Toby and Heather and friends, all of who require (as they should) a significant commitment of intention? Is it the constant pain underneath my right shoulder blade? Is it the feeling that no matter how hard I try to keep the house in order, I never seem to make any headway?

acd0122aeaf8e0ec5a907f6f2e3cc5a8c9c4acb493c3b668efb5fbb3f29acb2fThe list can go on ad nauseum. None of it is overwhelming or horrible or even dire. In fact, my life is blessed in very significant ways which is part of the problem. There is the lingering guilt of “I shouldn’t be grumpy because look at how awesome my life is” which is an attempt at shaming myself into not feeling grumpy but actually adds to it.

Part of this discipline is reminding myself that I have a right to my feelings, as irrational as they can be. However, I want to respond to my emotions, rather than react to them. Part of that means I have to be more open to expressing them; talking about them when they happen, rather than keeping them hidden away from the world (and myself). If I find myself annoyed at the way things are piling up in my computer room, I need say that I’m unhappy with that pile, then to do something about it rather than just be angry that it exists.

motivator64e3dfd83fced12df166cbb2aaThis goes again my nature. I’m an ENFJ and a type 9 which makes me extremely conflict averse, and dealing with conflict means expending a ton of personal energy. Especially when it comes to being in conflict with myself. At my most healthy, I am the peacemaker that brings healing, balance and justice to tense and dangerous situations. At my most unhealthy I avoid conflict at any cost, whether it is through ignoring the problem, zoning out, or doping myself with food and binging on Netflix.

Looking into the future, I want to be healthy Justin, which means doing the hard work. So here I am, letting myself feel grumpy and NOT giving in to anesthetization. Naming the grump; giving myself permission to just be this way for right now. But also checking in with it; walking with it through the day, hoping it’ll tell me its story when it’s ready. Until then, I have work to do and people to love.