Why I Dread Palm Sunday

As a child, I looked forward to Palm Sunday. After all, Palm Sunday Mass features a giveaway and the Gospel includes major audience participation. Sure the Mass was longer than most, and there was more standing/sitting/kneeling than most Sundays, but it was different, and like I said, you went home with something tangible.

As an adult and as a mom, my thoughts and feelings on the day have changed. Today it is the day in the liturgical calendar I most dread. I know that it is important to commemorate Christ’s Passion, to pass on the story, to keep it fresh for each coming generation, but I don’t like hearing it. I especially dislike the participation part.

I want to stand up and say, maybe even yell, “No! He is innocent. He has committed no crimes. He is a good and just man.” But I can’t. I have to suffer through the narrative. I have to relive the tense moments and see and feel the mob mentality. The only way I can protest would be to, like Pilate, refuse to participate, to wash my hands of the immense wrong done that day.
I think about Mary, His mother, and how this all must have been for her. Did she cry out or break down at the verdict? Did friends and family have to pull her away for her own protection? Did she plea to take his place? Her story is absent in the Bible. As a mother, I can’t imagine the horror. How could you bear to see this happen to your child? Yet how could you stay away and make them go through this ordeal alone?

I think of Mary Magdalen and the many women who followed Jesus, whom he welcomed into his circle and taught about the kingdom of God. How did they cope with this reality? Did they sit at home, knowing how things would turn out and believe that it would be too difficult to bear? Or were they there, hoping against hope that people would see this was wrong, that justice would prevail? Did they try to call out? Would their voices have been muffled by those around them or worse, dismissed, since they were just silly women? Did they feel powerless and insignificant living in a man’s world?

Though there is no mention of women at the trial of Jesus, we know that they were there when he was crucified. We know that they were at the tomb and despaired when they found his body missing. This, I believe is significant. Unlike some of the men, they were not afraid to be associated with Him at his death. As far as the guards were concerned, they were insignificant; their voices were ignored.

While I cannot change the past, times have changed. Over the centuries, the influence of women has grown. Women now have more power in society. Their voices are heard (though not always listened to). In most of the world, women are free to be educated. In many countries they are free to speak their minds, to run for public office, to influence or outright dictate policies. I am privileged to live in such a society and believe it would be wrong to squander these freedoms by remaining silent when innocent lives are threatened.

While I cannot change the past, I can work to effect the change Jesus advocated for in the world. I can speak up for Christian values and more importantly, live them. Over the past year and a half, I have been more outspoken in my belief that all humans should be treated fairly. My family asks why I worry about these things. I won’t really be affected, at least not directly. Many of the things I am speaking out against will not make my life any more difficult. But how can I be silent? I speak out because it’s the right thing to do. Honestly, I cannot understand why anyone would not.

The sort of mob mentality that caused Jesus’ death has not gone away. In fact, it seems we have seen a resurgence of it in recent years. I have heard many people speak of their concerns about being in crowds. They say they make sure they know where the exits are every time they are at a public gathering. They even try to avoid such events. Why? Because they worry about terroristic attacks or that rallies or protests may turn violent. They know that the mood of an event can very quickly change and a group of angry people is never a good thing.

I share their concerns. This will not make me avoid public events, but I am now hyper-aware of my surroundings. However, I am unwilling to sit back and watch as innocent people are unjustly punished, as our society and what we stand for is being diminished. My voice alone may not make a difference, but I believe that there is strength in numbers and that most of us want to do what is right. I believe in the basic goodness of humanity and will speak out against the voices stirring up the mob.

Unlike women of past centuries, my voice has power and I intend to use it to protect the “least of my brothers.” I have resources they don’t. I have been blessed with good fortune in my life. I have had challenges, but I also had the means to challenge and overcome them. How can I sit by and watch when unlike the women of the past, I have a voice with the potential to make a difference?

Why Can’t We See That We Are More Alike Than Different?

The Republican Party is caricatured as a heartless, racist group that does not care about children, the poor or the elderly. The perception is that it is the party of corporate greed and self interests. The Democrat Party is caricatured as a group of bleeding heart hippies who want to raise taxes and throw it all away on frivolous programs and giveaways for lazy bums who would rather sponge off society than get a job. They are seen as drifting idealists who want a socialist society.

None of this is true.

I have friends on both sides (on the extreme sides even). None of them are heartless; none of them want something for nothing; all of them care about people. They believe that children should get enough to eat, that our elderly population deserves respect and a decent standard of life.  They are kind, generous people, willing to help their families, friends and in many situations, even strangers.

So why are we always disagreeing? How did we get here?

Like most difficult questions, there is no simple answer. Therefore there is also no simple solution to heal the divided society we have become. But I think some changes can help us get closer.

We need to communicate better

When you take the time to listen, we all want the same things. When we hear something we disagree with, we need to not take it personally. We will not all agree on everything and that is okay. Supporting one idea doesn’t necessarily mean opposition to another. We need multiple ideas/points of view. In most cases, there is no one solution to a problem. The biggest ills of society have many origins and need to be approached from multiple angles.

We also need to stand strong, together

We need to question those who seek to divide us, who every time we have a difference of opinion whisper,

They are all the same.”

They are against you.”

By looking at what we have in common and acknowledging that we have a common goal, we can get past our differences. We are truly more alike than we are different.

We need to establish who is in charge

Our political representatives are our employees. While the means to hire and fire them is more complicated than in the business world, we still have that power.  If we were business owners, we would certainly fire employees who ignore our directions when someone outside the company offers them something they want.

Although we can’t eliminate the power of special interests (that’s the job of the lawmakers we are trying to keep from being influenced), we still have the power to dismiss our representatives. In the end, I honestly don’t care if we have a group full of Republicans or Democrats. We need representatives that listen to us, not special interests.

Some won’t believe that I mean this. Many people think they have me figured out. They have slapped a label on me based on something I have said or written. Among other things, I have been referred to as a “bleeding heart,” a “tree hugger,” a “libtard,” a “snowflake” and “one of those liberals.” These people blame me for decisions made by politicians they assume I have voted for. Taking out the ridiculousness that one can be held responsible for a single vote made by a politician one has voted for (out of hundreds or thousands), they really don’t know if I vote or who I have voted for.

I am registered to vote as an Independent. My beliefs and values straddle the traditional ones of both parties. I have split my ticket in almost every election, many times in half. I do my research on the candidates and try to determine which one more closely agrees with my position on the largest number of issues. I prioritize issues and sometimes am forced to vote for someone who vehemently disagrees with me on one issue, in the hope that the more important one is resolved. Being human, we will never find someone who agrees with us on every topic.

As an Independent, I live in a state where I have no voice in the primaries, so my voice is limited. So I am asking all of you. If you are registered Republican or Democrat, do some research and vote in the primaries. Give me two great candidates to choose from. I would love nothing more than a tough decision of who to vote for in November. In the meantime, let’s talk.

The Year of the Women

A year ago we could sense it coming. Though it looks very different than we anticipated, this has been the Year of the Women. It is very possible that what we are seeing today will be remembered in history books as a “revolution” of sorts.

Many expected to wake up the second Wednesday in November to news that the United States had elected its first female president. Some were shocked, confused and sad that this was not the case. However, that day did mark a big change: last year’s presidential election started a movement, the like of which I have not seen in my lifetime. Women, long a significant force in numbers, made the collective decision to work together to make a difference.

The days following the election saw a flurry of activity. Plans were made to hold a Women’s March to make a statement. Though not everyone had all the same goals, and many observers missed the point of these gatherings (that, as it turned out, occurred not just in the U.S. but around the world ), hundreds of thousands of women made it known that they would no longer sit idly by and watch bad decisions being made. Instead they determined to be a force of change.

Though the steps have been small, there are indications that some progress has been made. After decades of women standing up to discrimination and even assault, we are now seeing some changes. Proposed policies seen as anti-family have been blocked. More people are now believing women when they say they were mistreated. Predators are finally seeing repercussions for their actions. Things like the “casting couch” are longer seen as an acceptable method of conducting “business as usual.”

More women have stepped up to say, “Enough.” They are speaking up and refusing to accept the status quo any longer. There has been an almost imperceptible shift in attitude. I am seeing less tolerance of judging a person on their clothing or appearance. Discriminatory language is being called out and curtailed. Men in particular are starting to not only listen but also to join voices against discrimination.

This is different from other movements though, in that while the overriding issue is Women’s Rights, there is a significant overlap with other issues. Perhaps this is due to a recognition that our lives overlap and intersect those of others. Women are fighting not just for themselves, but for those who cannot or who struggle to fight for themselves. In some cases, it is because women often bear the brunt of the effects,in others, it is simply the right, the human thing to do .

Hollywood also is starting to acknowledge the power of women. We are starting to see more women in major roles and they are delivering at the box office (Hello, Wonder Woman!). Women over the age of 30 today have lucrative acting careers. Women are starting their own companies and getting more involved in politics,  both financially (donating in record numbers this year) and through running for office.

This shift in society is subtle but promising. Like most significant change, it comes with upheaval. It requires a different way of thinking. Change is a constant in life. Society is always evolving. The world is very different than it was only a couple generations ago, yet in some ways very much the same. We are both more independent and interdependent than we have ever been before. Working together is our best option. It looks like women are leading the way.

The Latest Installment of Things That Offend Us

U.S. flag flutters in the wind
The U.S flag flying at Ft. Sumter

The latest item to blow up social media and the news circuits is yet another bizarre controversy. The widespread national anthem protest by NFL players after the president’s comment this weekend has divided people even further, leaving many of us simply shaking our heads. The most noise here is coming from those who object to the protest.

The opinion being strongly presented is that taking a knee is disrespectful. That is perhaps the most puzzling part. Kneeling has traditionally been a sign of reverence and supplication. Throughout history, children have kneeled before their parents, it is used at the holiest moments in prayer and is the position knights-to-be assume while pledging their loyalty to their ruler.

Anti-Flag and Anti-Veteran

People are howling that this action is degrading the flag. If these athletes were burning the flag, stepping or spitting on it, that would make sense, but kneeling before it? Others rage that it is disrespectful to veterans who fought for the rights we hold so dear. (After all, everyone loves veterans, at least until budget time when their need to have food, housing and affordable medical care comes into play.) This discounts the fact that those rights include the power to have and express our opinions as well as to peaceably protest (both protected under Amendment #1). Further, the images seen at many football games yesterday showed many players on bended knee, with bowed head and hand on heart. This is hardly an image of disrespect.

Some have brought the flag code into this argument. The flag code is a U.S. statute that specifically has no provision for enforcement and no penalty for its violation. This is actually a good thing, as most people have violated it in some manner. (See provisions about clothing, accessories and disposable goods.) While I am particularly careful with how I treat the U.S. flag and will always stand for the national anthem, I know that it is only a symbol; our quasi-worship of this piece of fabric is seen peculiar by most other nations. While the U.S. has done great things and as citizens we have much to be proud of, our nation has also been responsible for some terrible actions. Like people, our nation is flawed and unlike God, it and its symbols should not be worshiped.

And Social Media Takes Off

As often happens, people are sharing stories on social media that serve to heighten the controversy, without verifying their accuracy. In this case, one references rules about the national anthem in the NFL Rule Book. Going straight to the source, the downloadable 2017 NFL Rulebook, you will find no mention of the national anthem at all.

Another popular post details a number of battles our brave veterans have served in, challenging athletes to do the same. Unfortunately, it starts with Valley Forge, a national park that has great military significance, (and where many brave souls died) but no battle was fought there.

Keep Politics Out!

Many are outraged that politics has been brought into their weekend entertainment; crying “Keep politics out!” and vowing to abandon the league. However, when politics affects one’s daily life, it becomes personal and cannot be separated. The current social and political climate is a challenging one. No one has been left untouched. Families and friendships have been torn apart. It has become impossible to stay truly neutral.

Sports figures have long been idolized and fans can be rather possessive. Yet, athletes are people, with their own values, beliefs and special interests. Few fans truly know their sports idols. They don’t know their family background and what life experiences they have had off the field. They don’t know what injustices they or their families and friends may experience on a regular basis. They can’t know what drives them and what worries keep them up at night.

Sports heroes are put in a position where they might be able to make a difference and taking advantage of their platform is the right thing to do. While there has been doubt as to what taking a different stance during the two minutes of each game that attention is drawn to the nation’s flag (personally, I didn’t see the point and didn’t think it accomplished much), this weekend has shown that it can make a great difference indeed.

What Would Our Revolutionary War Veterans Think?

statue of liberty

I am saddened by the fact that many people are willing to so easily accept Friday’s executive order on visas and immigration that dramatically changed the lives of hundreds of people with the stroke of a pen. This is not who we are as Americans. Few of us can claim heritage going back to pre-colonial times. In fact, there are not many who can go even that far back. While I have traced some of my ancestors back to the time of the Revolutionary War, I also have those who immigrated in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Speaking for those who fought in that first American war, I doubt that they would be proud of the direction our country has gone.

While I agree that we need to keep our country safe, this may very well prove to do the opposite. I am not alone in this opinion, several Iraq war veterans as well as Senator (and war veteran) John McCain have expressed the same view. Further, detaining and deporting people who have spent years working through the proper channels and who have sold everything they have to move to America (as our ancestors did) is cruel and inhumane. Traveling to a place where you are not fluent in the language is intimidating at best. Moving to such a place when you have been assured of your welcome and then being detained, questioned and in some cases put on a plane and sent back into a war zone, with nothing, has to be terrifying.

As of today, citizens of 38 countries can enter the U.S .without a visa and stay here for up to 90 days as a tourist or a business traveler. All other countries are required to apply for a visa for a visit of any length (with some exceptions). The visa process takes time and can be complicated, but I agree it is necessary. (The image below explains the steps involved in obtaining a visa to the U.S..)

The new executive order has suspended all new visas to seven nations without reasonable justification.People already in the process have been told to not schedule nor to attend scheduled interviews.Further, the order has invalidated already issued visas, even to those who have been working or going to school in the U.S. and were traveling outside the country. (A direction to also include green card holders in the ban has since been rescinded.) These people have established a life here (whether temporary or permanent) and are now not allowed to return home. They went through legal channels; they were not a danger a week ago, why are they a danger today?

information on obtaining a visa to the U.S.
Source of image information: U.S. Department of State



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Why I, as a Catholic Christian, Felt the Need to Attend the Philadelphia Women’s March


When the idea of the Women’s March was first presented, I was conflicted about the idea. The cause was fuzzy and seemed scattered. I believe in some, but not all of the stated causes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take a chance I would be labeled and attached to a cause contrary to my personal views.

As the event got closer, things became clearer and though it still didn’t have a single, clear focus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate but I supported the idea: we need to take a stand for what we believe in and need to speak for those who for a variety of reasons can’t speak for themselves. Yes, there were too many causes attached to effect rapid change in any one, but the sheer size would get attention, it would be a start. Though we do not all agree on everything, there are some things we do all agree on and our voices are more powerful together than apart.

As of Saturday morning, I still had not made the decision to go. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the time. Home was comfortable. If I were to go, I would be going alone as everyone that I knew were heading into the city had already left and I thought it unlikely I would be able to meet up with anyone in a sea of thousands. I spent a couple hours pondering, but couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something I NEEDED to do. After all, the day before, our president took steps that may lead to many vulnerable people losing life-saving health insurance. These include the poor, the disabled, those with pre-existing conditions such as auto-immune disorders, autism, asthma, and mental health issues (all of which in the past have been a cause for denying health insurance completely). There are indications that there are plans to move quickly to make more changes, many of which I feel will be harmful, especially to the disabled and to our environment (which will affect us all).

Many are arguing that I am being alarmist, that the worst won’t happen, but if I have learned anything in the past year, it is that anything can happen; there are no assurances, there is no longer a status quo when it comes to the U.S. government. I also know that rights are much easier taken away than restored. We cannot be complacent and take a “wait and see” approach with the lives of our most vulnerable citizens at stake.

In Philadelphia, the crowds were polite and attentive to the speakers onstage. Mayor Jim Kenney was the first to speak. He affirmed his support for women, and encouraged the crowd to do more than simply show up at a rally, telling people to find a cause they believe in and “go volunteer somewhere.” Donna Bullock, a state representative from Philadelphia, was insistent that “we must continue to listen to each other” that working together and learning from each other is important. Overall, the message of the day was a positive one:  we need to stand together and watch out for each other. We need to be aware citizens and make sure our elected representatives know where we stand on issues.

On Saturday evening, I saw coverage of the many marches throughout the world, both on TV and on Facebook. I was hurt and baffled, then angry that so many misunderstood the point of the day’s gatherings. Friends made angry accusations, saying things like “Get over it, Trump won. Just move on” and stated that the marches were a waste of time, with the assumption that the point of the protest was to unseat Trump. Others condemned the demonstrations as pro-abortion rallies. Some talked about violence and destruction (there was no report of this at any event on Saturday). None of these things are true. I couldn’t understand why so many chose to make assumptions, rather than ask a question or do a little research.

I spent much time thinking about the responses I saw and I wondered how many people were really considering what Jesus would do. I thought of His words, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” If we turn our backs on the disabled, the poor, the mentally ill, what does that say about us? We cannot just turn a blind eye to policies that dismantle programs that provide assistance. As Christians, we are called to spread His word, not to sit by and watch as others’ rights are eroded.

In last week’s gospel, Matthew told us the story of Jesus calling His disciples to follow Him. In the homily, our priest expanded on that, talking about how extraordinary it was that Jesus called fishermen to come join him in his mission. He could have chosen “experts” in areas such as finance, business and law, but instead he chose men with no experience in public speaking, calling them to be “fishers of men.” We were reminded that there are no special qualifications needed to follow Christ, we need only to look to His example and take action to make a difference in the world.

I have long believed that it is all of our responsibility to work to ensure fair treatment for everyone, not just for those who can afford it. In October 2014, Archbishop Auza said, the “responsibility to protect is a recognition of the equality of all before the law, based on the innate dignity of every man and woman. The Holy See [Pope Francis] wishes to reaffirm that every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights.”

This is not a new concept, in 1961, Pope John XXIII said, “As for the State . . . It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of the condition of the workingman.”

“The Catholic bishops of the United States believe building a just economy that works for all encompasses a wide range of issues, including food security and hunger, work and joblessness, homelessness and affordable housing, and tax credits for low-income families, as well as protecting programs that serve poor and vulnerable people throughout the federal budget.”

The Catholic bishops are specific about this and “have established three fundamental criteria for discerning the morality of budget decisions:

  1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
  2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects the lives and dignity of “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
  3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.”

I argue that given these tenets, we are obligated to speak up. It is our responsibility as citizens to hold our elected representatives accountable. As Catholics, we need to stand up for what is right, to speak up when we see injustice, to do what we can to right wrongs. There is no place for complacency.

As Pope Francis said in his Address at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bolivia, The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change.”  

The message I heard over and over again on Saturday is that as mothers, sisters, daughters, it is up to us to watch over each other. Traditionally, we are the caretakers. It is our responsibility to speak up and be heard.




A Final Hail to the Chief

100_1078-1edYou know that list of top people you would want to invite for dinner? The Obamas (and the Bidens as well) would certainly make my list. As we prepare to say farewell to someone who will certainly have more than a brief mention in future history books, I feel compelled to offer a thank you. I have never been prouder of my country than I was that day in November 2008 that a black man was elected to the presidency. I believed in his message, but honestly I wasn’t sure that our country was at the point that they could look past color and see just a man. I consider the nation fortunate that they did.

It is not my job to record his legacy; that I will leave for the historians, but I am confident that future generations will see him in a favorable light, even though his critics are in abundance today.

What I will remember most about the past eight years is the image presented to the world. President Obama has been well respected in other countries and has shown grace in the face of opposition at home. He has a dedication to family that I greatly admire and a willingness to be real, in a city that often isn’t.  He demonstrates a willingness to hear other people’s views and is not above meeting them at their level (even those who are too young to vote) His love and respect for his wife and daughters is obvious as is his genuine concern for all people.

Also unlike many in Washington, he shows respect for others, even when he holds opposing views.  When he spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton, he was quick to suppress boos or derogatory comments, defending the rights of those who were there to voice their opposition. Likewise, our First Lady refused to trash talk, insisting that “We go high.” Throughout a divisive and at times very ugly campaign, Barack and Michelle Obama maintained standards of decency and showed class and grace.

There has not been a family in the White House in my memory that has had such a complete absence of scandal or for that matter any tinge of social impropriety. After the past few decades, it has been refreshing to have the confidence, especially in this day and age, that our president would not embarrass us on the world stage. It also has been a pleasure to watch the “Dad-in-Chief” interact with his children as well as the antics of the most high-profile bromance in our country.

President Obama has been true to his role, right to the end. He has worked to encourage those who are discouraged or fearful and has continued to express the vision of hope which came to the forefront of our nation almost a decade ago. He has committed to the principles our nation was founded on, calling for a peaceful transition, while reminding us that we are a government “of the people.”

Change is never easy. Dramatic change is even more difficult. To say that I will miss this president is an understatement. President Obama and his family have shown us how those in power can and should behave. They have served as role models for those in public office and hopefully some of our elected representatives are paying attention.

President Obama, thank you, not only for being a good president, but also for being a shining example of a good man.


Click here to watch the video of President Obama’s meeting with Kid President.



We Have a Problem to Solve – Not Every Vote Is Equal

Each dot represents a block of voters with red dots for Trump votes and blue for Clinton. In most states, each dot represents 10,000 votes, however due to the size of some states and the total number of voters, in some states a dot represents 20K, 25K or 50K votes. This is uniform within states in order to keep the proportions.


Purple is the most powerful visible wavelength. It is a color associated with wisdom, dignity, creativity and independence. It is the color our nation has chosen to indicate bravery.

I have seen too many gloating posts, proclaiming that the voters have spoken, that we have a consensus, that we have a clear winner. Besides being insensitive and unsportsmanlike, these claims are simply not true.

Those of you who are proclaiming that your candidate won and you are in the majority, take another look. Putting aside that the losing party in this election won the popular vote, the votes were largely split across almost every state. In only 16 states did one candidate get 60% or more of the vote. In many states, it was close to a tie. In one state, only 2732 votes separated the candidates. That is less than half the population of my very small town. Looking at maps at the county level, the voting result in many cases was even closer. Shading one county or state red or blue based on a simple majority can discount up to half of the population.

I understand the concept of the Electoral College and why it was put in place. It makes sense to not give all the power to one or a couple states. But in a way, isn’t that exactly what the system has done? Much of our country believed that their vote didn’t count. I heard many people in non-swing states say that no matter how they voted, the outcome was already known, their state’s candidate was decided even without a vote.

The Electoral College does not accurately reflect the will of the people.  We all saw the map, which made it look like the country had overwhelmingly voted for one person. This is not the first time the popular vote has not matched the electoral vote and even when it has, this visual has been skewed, making it appear that everyone in a state agrees on a single candidate. Perhaps this has contributed to some of the unrest that has festered silently for years and is now spilling out and dividing our nation. I question the wisdom in giving all the electoral votes in a state to one candidate. If these votes were divided between candidates in all states, how close would it be? Who would win? When you look at the popular vote, even within states, the results were extremely close.

I am not arguing the results of this election. I believe in our democracy and accept that we won’t always agree. We have rules and procedures in place and need to work within the framework we have. But I believe that is is time for this to change. I also believe that when change is necessary, it needs to come about through the proper channels and unfortunately this is usually a slow and sometimes painful process.

If nothing else, we are now certain that our country is broken. Without a doubt, there are many changes ahead. If we are going to remain United States, we have  to work together. Our government relies on compromise in order for our system to work. We need to look past the labels to ensure that the changes are good not for just the red side or the blue side, but for everyone.

Personally, I think purple is a fine color.








Today I Am Wondering, Is This a Test?

sunset-1591599_1280There is a saying, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

This is something I have lived by. When things get dark and scary, I remind myself of this. Of course there have been days I have looked to the heavens and said, “You put way too much faith in me.”

But guess what? He has always been right.

Last night I went to bed, just before the election was called, reasonably certain of the results.  This morning I woke up to what I have expected for weeks: Discord and anger. Facebook is still being monopolized by politics and the election. As the vote was split pretty evenly, half of our country is disappointed by the results. Because of the way the votes ultimately swung, many are also frightened.

I am proud to live in a diverse community. I feel blessed that my kids went to school with people of many faiths and ethnic heritages. My children have friends whom they consider family with ethnic heritages very unlike our own primarily Irish and British roots.These kids have been welcome guests in my home. My kids have helped them celebrated their religious ceremonies and have been accepted into their families as they have been into ours.

This morning, my children are worried about their friends. They are all adults, so it is not in an abstract, childish way. They have seen racism, sexism and homophobia. They see the fear in their friends’ eyes. They have witnessed bullying and harassment. They have seen how some people treat others as “less than” due to superficial differences.

I worry about this too. I have from the time my children were small. But I know that worry doesn’t inspire change. But prayer does. Speaking up does. Acting on one’s belief does. Practicing all three magnifies the impact.

If this year taught us anything, it is that we need to teach love. We need to fight the darkness. We need to be an example to our children of how to make a difference in the world, in a positive way. We need to watch over those who can’t fight for themselves and make sure that they receive the care and respect they deserve. To effectively do these things, we have to work together. We have to extend a hand to those who have disagreed with us and agree to work toward a common goal. (Without a doubt, we have some common goals.) This won’t necessarily be easy, but things worth fighting for rarely are.

Today the challenge looks daunting, but a group of people working for good can accomplish amazing things. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. We need to keep the faith. He wouldn’t have given us this challenge if we couldn’t succeed.

The Absolute Uncertainly of an Unsettled World

torn flag and barbed wireAbsolute uncertainty. This perfectly describes the upcoming election for U.S. President.

The outcome is uncertain. The acceptance of the outcome is uncertain. The future of the country I love is uncertain.

These are uncertain times. Never before have I felt so unsure of the future. Never before have I been seriously concerned about the world my children and their children will inhabit. No matter which candidate wins the election, the country will be in turmoil. If Trump wins, I worry that we will take many steps back. Many individual rights are threatened by Trump’s stated goals. Of course, many of the things he promised cannot be fulfilled, at least not with the system as it is currently set up. But I worry that even that is uncertain. If Clinton wins, Trump has indicated that he will challenge the results; that he will not concede. Either way, a large portion of the population will feel that they have lost after this election and I am not sure how or even if we will be able to feel united again.

When a major political party, the party who years ago pushed for family values, elects as their representative a man who lies and cheats and then says he “never said that” (in an era when everything public figures say and do is recorded and reported on), I believe we can be certain of nothing. When people then defend these statements and say that his opponent is crooked and parrot his soundbites, instead of doing their research to determine what is true, I am confused and question my long-held belief that truth and goodness will always prevail.

I am baffled by the argument: “He is a good businessman and will surround himself with good people to get the job done.” I have seen no evidence of that. If anything, I think his judgement is getting worse. A good businessman knows how to handle himself in public, he is respectful, he encourages, not disparages. A good businessman listens to others, especially when they don’t agree with him. A good businessman puts together cohesive, intelligent arguments, he doesn’t stomp his feet and call names when someone disagrees with him. A good businessman takes pride in what he does and encourages press coverage, he doesn’t banish those who may write negatively about him. A good businessman doesn’t regularly insult more than half the population.

Conspiracy theorists have been given an abundance of fuel as well. Trump has left little tidbits in his wake at almost every appearance. Though this is nothing new, his paranoia of the establishment has fueled more fear and hatred than I have ever seen. Yes government has its flaws, but his suggestions that everything is rigged will only polarize people more. Is it possible that the system our forefathers put in place, with multiple checks and balances, could have gotten so corrupt that it is possible to rig everything? I don’t think so.

Politicians promise things they can’t deliver. Election seasons are full of lofty goals and visions of an ideal world. Our political system is set up in such a way that people must work together to make anything happen. This is of course the great flaw in our system, since today people can’t even agree to talk about making a decision, let alone work to find a solution that will benefit all, even a little.

We are living in a time of absolute uncertainty. We are becoming a nation of us and them. We are not listening to each other, but are reacting to what we think others are saying. The future is always unknown, but up until recently, I believed that it could always be made better. I now worry that we may be going a direction that cannot be reversed. I am absolutely uncertain of anything except that if we could all set aside our differences and find a way to work together, that maybe, just maybe, we can save our country from ourselves.