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.

What am I (really) afraid of?

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What we’re really afraid of

Halloween has passed. Kiddos ran around in costumes. Adults ran around in skimpier costumes. Everybody should be crashing from their sugar high. I love that we have a day where we confront devils and demons and things that go bump in the night. It allows us to face fear with a smile. But what I’m really trying to do is confront/distract/convince myself into believing I’m not afraid of death.

I know it’s ok to be afraid of it. Death is the end of conscious existence.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really like my conscious existence. My biology fights tooth and nail to hold on to every second of living. No wonder human beings have propagated thousands of stories about what happens after death and many more about how to live forever. It gives a false sense of security that maybe, just maybe, death can be cheated.

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word.

I don’t want to live in fear of death anymore. So I recently stopped worrying about the afterlife. It can’t be proven outside of a leap of faith and I’m no longer willing to entertain the idea. Most religions follow a pretty (not so) simple path to paradise: be a righteous person in how you live in order to gain spiritual rewards later. If I don’t follow the rules, I am damned for eternity.

But what happens when I stop believing? Do I no longer have any incentive to be a “good” person? I figure just because I no longer look towards heaven doesn’t mean I have to be a dick. I don’t need damnation to coerce me into doing the right thing. Kindness is still the key to my immortality!

All my grandparents have passed away, some aunts and uncles too; I had a friend (Daryl) pass more than ten years ago. Each of those people made an impression on me. Their smiles, kind words and personalities are all inside my memory. On days like Halloween, when I am supposed to laugh in the face of death, I take a moment to bring the dead back to life. I mourn that they are gone; I celebrate the fact that they lived, and let me live with them.

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enjoy it while it lasts

In order to overcome my fear of death, I had to just accept that it will happen and stop worrying about what would happen after. Like my deceased loved ones, the only way I’ll get to live past my time is by making an impression on the hearts and minds of the people around me. My personal preference is to be remembered for being a good man. Therefore, I still strive for righteousness; but focused on the here and now, rather than the here and after.