“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Yet again starting a controversial post with my favorite civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. I don’t love him because I am supposed to. I don’t love him because the world and culture tells me too. I love him because he speaks truth and gives breath and life to the issues in life that need dealt with.
A few weeks ago I had my older baby girls in my bed with me. We were having a deep girl talk about things that pre-teen and teen girls talk about with their mom. Before the conversation was over I suggested maybe talking about something they had been thinking about lately. Questions they wanted to ask me. Something to keep the conversation open for something they had been thinking about. I won’t divulge what we talked about because it is private and personal and close to all of our hearts. But I will say many of their questions surrounding with trying to find their own identities in this world and figure how they believe. This is more than religion or politics. It was real life.
I shared a very private and personal moment with them that I had never really shared with anyone else. But when I was younger and a new mom and just beginning to raise them I saw the world very differently. I saw it through very different lenses than I see the world now. Some of that may be just human maturity or my own spiritual path and growth. But a lot of it has to do with my world got broader. I see and interact with a whole lot more people than I ever did back then. I chose a career path that services the community and I believe in that principle to the very core of heart. I am meant to not only serve the community I work in, but I am meant to make it better.
You maybe wondering how this all ties to my political beliefs and trust me it does. But let me be clear I am not telling you how to believe or suggesting that others need to open their eyes the way I needed to. This is about my path and my journey and no one elses. When my # 2 was born I was only beginning to understand politics and participate in them. I had some brief encounters with politicians that made me feel good and did what they were supposed to do. They swayed me to their political party. I believed very falsely that there was only one way. For me it was conservative.
Now this isn’t some bashing ceremony for the conservative party now that I am older and wiser. But back then I had a very idealized version of the world I was living in. For me it was so easy to make assumptions about the world from my couch and my computer screen where I interacted with like minded people every where. Then I went to graduate school twice. Then my children started getting their own personalities. Then I got a job working with the community.
I realized very quickly that around every single bend my beliefs and ideals would be challenged along the way. Some I held onto so staunchly one would think I was 100 and set in my ways. Others were easy to let go. But what happened are the issues I held so tightly to either for or against suddenly had faces. They weren’t just Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri, or a bikini clad teenager at a pool party, or some homeless person begging for food on the side of the road on a trip to Menards or Caitlyn Jenner from LA. These were people I was working with daily.
Each and every single one of them had a story that gave my cause a name and made me see it a whole lot differently. I could tell specific story after specific story but I won’t. That isn’t the point of this post. But the point for me writing this all out and to bring it back around to sitting on the bed with my girls that day. I told them both I want them to know and see the world before they make those decisions and that includes the people in it. It is too easy for me to sit back and decide these things the way I did. I had to be in and of the world and weigh my conscience for each and every issue. That doesn’t mean it is easy and sometimes it is plain hard.
But now my political beliefs are all over the place and I take each and every single issue in stride. The ones I value most I hold most closely to my heart are there because I know the face attached to them. Sometimes it maybe my own and other times it may be attached to a person I have encountered. So no longer do I lean one way. I lean all ways, but one thing is for sure. I choose and lean toward love.