Why I’m Sad

I’ve spent the last 24 hours in a daze. At 9:56pm yesterday, I incredulously texted my wife on my way out of a meeting, “Trump might win this election.” That was when the New York Times had just updated their prediction, giving him a 51% chance to secure the presidency. But even then, I didn’t really believe what I was texting. I assumed the votes would keep coming in, the states would start turning blue, and any possibility of a Trump victory would prove to be short-lived.

But, of course, that’s not what happened. Sitting on my couch later in the night, I watched in disbelief as Wolf Blitzer and John King puzzled over an electoral map that refused to turn out like all the pollsters had predicted. North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida. All red. Was this really happening? When I finally ran out of stamina and went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, the election had been all but decided. Donald Trump was going to be our next president.

Since then, I’ve spent the day in a fog of amazement and disbelief. And although I still need some time to process this whole bizarre turn of events, here’s what I know for sure: I’m sad.

Now don’t get me wrong. When I say I’m sad, I’m not talking about “my-best-friend-just-died” sad. It’s not the piercing sadness of overwhelming grief or personal loss. It’s more of a general sense of despondent heaviness. I’m just bummed out. And in trying to make out why exactly that is, I’ve come up with a few specific reasons. Perhaps you can relate.

I’m sad because I’m tired. You know that feeling when you’ve spent a long time investing emotional energy into a pursuit, and then suddenly it’s over? You find yourself in an immediate emotional vacuum, trying to adjust to a new reality. The day after Christmas. The last game of the season. Well that’s exactly how I feel right now. This election has been long. And grueling. And long. And full of twists and turns. And long. And frankly, it has worn me out. I’ve tried to maintain a reasonable, principled outlook throughout all the mudslinging and accusations, but that has taken a lot of work. And now, all of a sudden, it’s over. On the one hand, I’m happy it’s behind us. But on the other hand, it’s hard to adjust to life where infinite speculations have given way to one (surprising) reality, all in the span of a few hours.

I’m sad because many of my friends are sad. It’s not fun to hear about people close to me who aren’t just disappointed by the results of this election, but devastated. Many people are heartbroken. They feel blindsided. And regardless of how you may have voted in the election, you can’t help but feel bad for those who had so eagerly anticipated a Clinton victory, only to see it fail to materialize in the most shocking of ways. I mourn with my friends who feel a sudden sense of alienation from the country they love (and thought they knew). Van Jones almost had me in tears last night when he spoke of the pain that many Muslims, immigrants, and black families were feeling. That’s heart-wrenching. And so, naturally, I’m weighed down for those whose hopes have been dashed.

I’m sad because the church has taken a hit. Here’s a term I’m not real fond of right now: “white evangelical.” Apparently, some 80 percent of that demographic voted for Trump. And while I’m sure there were many of good reasons for that, here’s how it seems to have come across to much of the rest of the country: “White Christians are only worried about their own agenda. Who cares if Muslims experience religious persecution? Who cares if immigrants get shipped out? White Christians just want to preserve their own privilege and comfort.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with that. I don’t want to be seen as little more than a self-interested voting bloc. I want the church to be known for its love and service and message of good news—not its political jostling. Unfortunately, I fear that our collective reputation has already been established. This grieves me.

I’m sad because national unity seems more distant than ever. In their respective speeches, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton called upon Americans to come together in unity. And I certainly hope this can happen. But let’s be honest: if we look at the trajectory of recent years, the divide is only getting bigger. We’re not moving toward each other in a spirit of respect and goodwill. We’re just biding our time until the next election cycle when it becomes once again politically acceptable to hurl venomous insults at each other. And barring the intervention of God himself (may it be so!), these insults will only get more and more divisive as our country descends into a state of distrust and animosity. Even as I write this, protests are taking place around the country in response to our new democratically elected leader. This is grievous to watch, and no American should be glad to see such deep-seated anger between people of different political persuasions.

I’m sad because I feel stuck. Being a political centrist is difficult. On the one hand, I empathize with my liberal friends who feel as though they’re about to watch their country march off a cliff. And on the other hand, I empathize with my conservative friends who feel as though the country has just been saved from going off a cliff. I can look either direction, and I can relate to what I see. But it’s discouraging to know that although I may relate, I don’t in any way belong. I desperately want to pop some champagne and celebrate. Or dust off some whiskey and drink away my pain. But instead I’m just awkwardly sitting in the middle, trying to make sense of another election in which I’ve had a hard time truly feeling at home. Maybe someday this will change. I certainly hope it does. But in the meantime, I’m stuck being a political nomad, wandering to and fro across a political wasteland that is neither red nor blue.

So yeah, I’ll admit it: I’m sad. You might think that’s silly and juvenile. But I’m not ashamed. After all, if Inside Out taught me anything, it’s that sadness can be a blessing. So I’ll embrace it and learn from it. But then I’ll move on from it. There are simply too many opportunities ahead—as a neighbor, as a citizen, as a Christian—to stay gloomy. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how I feel. What matters is what I do to help cultivate a peaceful, just, and unified society. Who’s with me?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lee says:

    I came by this shared on facebook and feel compelled to comment.

    First, as a disclaimer, I am not white Evangelical Christian. I am white, and I was raised in an evangelical/charismatic christian home but I do not identify as such myself in any way. I do hope that my comment will be taken in the good faith that it is intended.

    In the section where you talk about the hit the church has taken and how “White Evangelical” now has a negative connotation I feel you miss that there is a history here that many feel is repeating itself.

    The white church played a huge role in white supremacy, and still does. You defend your fellow White Evangelicals votes for Trump as being for “good reasons” but for many, there is no real evidence that those “good reasons” exist and for them, this is shades of the church of the past that upheld, from the pulpit with Christian dogma and bible verses and with public lynchings attended by countless white Christians who heard about the lynching from their pastor in church from the pulpit.

    The collection reputation that the White Evangelical Church has is not a new one. The sins of the past that have never been acknowledged, changed in meaningful ways or the thought processes behind them eradicated.

    You are 110% correct that right now the evidence is that Evangelical Christians are ONLY concerned about their own agenda. And this agenda seems to be one of taking the country back to the 1930’s (or before). Where white straight christian males were the undisputed “top dogs” in society and everyone else was artificially suppressed through the law and through violence and intimidation to uphold that order.

    If you want to fight that image, you first have to acknowledge that it’s a very accurate picture. It’s not been created as an insult, it’s been earned by their own actions. It doesn’t matter if they felt there were “good reasons” to vote for him, he presented a neat package of white supremacist and anti-equality beliefs and they were very happy to embrace that.

    My hope is that there are enough young people in the White Evangelical Christian churches that will be able to see the history and present and will feel as you do and that changes will be in store in the future.

    I also wanted to address this… no American should be glad to see such deep-seated anger between people of different political persuasions.

    This deep-seated anger we see from the protests is not about a simple difference of political beliefs. This is a sheer terror that white-Christian-hetero supremacy will take a path here like it has so many times in history here and in so many other places as well and that we will see immense human suffering of people here as a result. Thank you for your thoughts in this post and thank you for reading this reply.

    Like

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