This last year has been one heck of a ride for everyone. I won’t get into exactly why because I don’t think I need too. On top of the obvious stuff, we all had our individual wins and losses as well. I’ve learned a lot. I hope you have too.
I spent a good portion of the year in a constant state of disbelief. Some of it was for the political climate. Some of it was for person reasons. I’m beating around the bush. I going to talk about the election for a minute, so stop reading now if you’re not into it. I’ve got a larger point, but I need to work through some of this for context.
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump because I don’t like the man’s character. He brought out a side of this country that I’m not proud of, but now that he’s been elected I’m going to do my best to learn as much as I can about the people who voted for him. I’m probably not going to agree with them/you, but understanding is the only way I know to fend off bitterness and resentment.
I never thought this was going to be the outcome of the election. From the moment Trump began his campaign I wrote him off. In every primary I wrote him off. Even in the general election, I wrote him off. To me he seemed like such an extreme version of the social issues I stand firmly against. I didn’t think there was any way he would get the support he did. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot this year. And in years.
I think this has been good for America. While I don’t respect or agree with Donald Trump on many issues, I think he is what we needed this year. Maybe not as president, but he brought to light issues I and many others thought were dealt with. I thought outright racism had been mostly eliminated. I was wrong. I thought needing consent regarding sexual acts was universally accepted. I was wrong. I thought America was pretty great and getting better. I guess I was wrong. Even if you like his ideas and voted for him, can we at least agree about the racism and misogyny? Trump’s campaign brought all these things out into the open for all of us to see. That is something we needed.
Now to the bigger point.
We spend a lot of energy and money trying to make thing appear ok. We buy things we can’t afford to make it look like we’re doing better financially than we actually are. When was the last time you asked someone how they were and their reply was anything other that “fine” or “very well” or some variation of that? We’re hiding our pain, anxiety, our sins. This isn’t healthy and it kills our hope for peace.
We are whole people. I have a mantra I like to tell myself when I start feeling too righteous. Everyone is Everything. Everyone has things that most of us would call bad. It’s ridiculous when you think about the way we try to hide the “bad” things about ourselves because we want everyone to think we’re good. We’re all just hiding from each other. I think I’m the only one, and you think you’re the only one. It’s really funny in the saddest way, when we zoom out.
We’ve done things we’re not proud of. We have thoughts that make us uneasy. Some of us are grieving. Some of us are angry. Most of us are walking around trying very hard to make our lives look like everything is fine.
During Christmas every year there seems to be an undertone of guilt and pressure. In line at the store I see it. Zoned out drivers trying not to make eye contact with the homeless guy asking for help. The unexpected gift that should be reciprocated. Gifts of unequal value. Many wish they could do more, but they make every penny stretch to get something for everyone on their list. And everyone goes to Christmas and acts fine. No stress on the outside. Dreading the credit card bills the new year will bring.
When we spent our energy on trying to keep up appearances, it should come as no surprise that peace has vacated the scene. By trying to push down and ignore or hide the “bad” stuff we are not doing ourselves any favors. We’re rejecting part of ourselves. There are no “good” people. Everyone is everything. The proportions are different from person to person, but I don’t think there is a pure soul on the planet. That gives me hope for me. And for you. And for Donald Trump.
We should embrace those parts of ourselves that we’ve labeled as bad. The more hidden they are, the more power they have over us. Talk about them. Explore them. When you catch your kid watching porn don’t go off the handle. Explore that impulse. Condemning them and trying to stop it only ensures they’re going to keep doing it, except now you don’t get to be part of the conversation. Take that and apply it liberally to all situations. Of course, there should be boundaries with who and where these things take place. The point is, hiding creates darkness. Showing our cards floods light all over our darkest corners.
This is a theme I’ve tried to explore in the Christmas story. It is in fact one of the most compelling themes in the whole bible. All the dirt got left in. Thousands of contradictions. This book is riddled with humanity. Beautiful, flawed humanity. The Christmas story is no different. The sinless son of God was born to what to natural eyes looked like either an adulteress or a couple of unwed fornicators. He was born in poverty. Some new age astronomers and shepherds (basically the scum of society) came to worship him. If this had happened today, Mary and Joseph would had to have been Kardashians to make the cut.
Despite the circumstances, we think of Christmas as a time of peace on earth. Peace can only truly come when we’re honest. We are everything. Everyone is everything. Let’s celebrate the good, deal with the bad, and mourn the sad. Let’s be honest. Let’s do it together. Let’s all find people we trust who we can be our whole selves with. Let’s make 2017 the year we air our dirty laundry and get it dealt with properly. Of all the things I’ve written this month, that sentence is the best first step to peace I can think of. I’ll say it again. Let’s make 2017 the year we air our dirty laundry and get it dealt with properly. That’s it. We’ve got work to do. Let’s get to it.