RevGal Erin Counihan and friends at the Women's March in St. Louis.
RevGal Erin Counihan and friends at the Women’s March in St. Louis.

Ever since the election in the U.S. in November, I’ve noticed a tendency for many of us on the “losing” side of the election to turn on each other. People of one race blame people of another for not getting their vote out. People who supported Secretary Clinton blame people who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. People who voted blame people who didn’t vote (I’m completely on board with that one, if I’m honest).

It’s come up a number of times since the election too.

Should our elected leaders attend the inauguration and mark the peaceful transfer of power? Or should they stay away from it to highlight the huge irregularities in the election from Russian involvement to the work of the FBI director in the days before?

The Women’s March on Washington was either a great idea, or a horrible, and possibly racist one. Rather than talk to each other about the concerns we had, or the hopes we had, about it, we accused each other of bad intentions and didn’t listen to each other’s concerns.

Wearing pink pussy hats was either a clever, grass roots response to reclaim boorish and dangerous language from our new president or was an affront to feminism.

RevGal Katya Ouchakof joined the protest in Madison, Wisconsin.
RevGal Katya Ouchakof joined the protest in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m not saying everyone should just tow the line and have one unified response to this Presidency and our current political situation. There are real differences and we need to find ways of discussing them without assigning motives to people who respond differently than we do.  Feminism, in particular, has a fraught relationship and history with people of color. White feminists need to listen and educate ourselves to the concerns our sisters of color have. (Revgals is having a number of conversations on this topic. More information here). If the word “intersectionality” is new to you, it’s worth your time to find out more.

We cannot normalize the dangerous behavior of our new President. I will pray for him to act with civility and to have the best interests of our nation in mind.  But when he lies, employs known white supremacists, appoints people unqualified for their posts, repeals and overturns policies that will leave people vulnerable and at risk, refuses to abide by ethics standards, I will respond.  When he mocks and impugns women, people who are differently abled, people of other religions and nationalities, and mischaracterizes our inner cities as “war zones,” it emboldens people to respond in kind. I will respond.

I worry, though, that every time we point fingers at each other for responding differently to this political reality, we are pointing in the wrong direction. We need to be with and for each other, trusting intentions, seeking clarity, and encouraging each other as we navigate.

RevGal Julia Seymour says she will never forget this woman who marched in Anchorage, Alaska.
RevGal Julia Seymour will never forget this woman who marched in Anchorage, Alaska.

Are we really going to spend time complaining about the color and style of a hat women are wearing instead of noticing the news out of the White House? Friends, we don’t have that kind of time. 

I was with a thoughtful group of church folks last night, and we were discussing how to channel our energy in positive directions and move forward. The talk kept turning to “others”. The unemployed, poor white people did this. Fox News did that. Millennials did something else altogether.  After a while of letting people vent, I reminded them (I reminded myself), that we can’t change the behavior of Fox News watchers or the unemployed poor. All we can do is look to our own behavior, our own thoughts, and our own hopes. We cannot force someone else to share our hope.

At its most basic level, it’s about standing clearly in our own space, and allowing people to stand clearly in their own space. As we add layers of nuance, it’s about acknowledging the privilege that stands with us as we occupy our space. And helping to make sure that others have the freedom and safety to occupy their space, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.

I worry all of this infighting  is pointing us in the wrong direction, away from meaningful opposition. I’d like our civic behavior to not remind me of a Monty Python sketch.

 

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Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood and the Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book,There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).

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5 thoughts on “The Pastoral is Political: Pointing in the Wrong Direction

  1. Thank you, Marci. I’ve been feeling the same thing. The best part of Saturday’s march, at least in Olympia, WA, was seeing all kinds of people (female, male, transgender, black, brown, Native American, heterosexual, homosexual, babies in strollers, and old ladies in wheelchairs, protestants, Jews, preachers, and agnostics) all marching together, and all focused on their own causes, but marching together. I saw pro-life signs marching next to pro-choice signs, and everyone was polite, even friendly. If groups got separated in the crowd, people said, “Make a hole, these folks need to get back together,” and the crowds parted. It has really bothered me, that in the time since the march, various groups who did not bother to participate, have complained because “WE held a march and nobody came,” or “I didn’t want to march with ______.” To me, that was the whole point – that everybody could be there, together, and still support their own special interest without being objectionable to each other. It was truly what can I do? what can I support? how can I make this work for everybody? – not what can you do for me? how can you support my cause?

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    1. I am still committed to listening to the women who didn’t come to the march because I think their reasons are important for me to understand.

      The Boise march had good intersectionality. I was heartened. Glad Olympia’s was good too. I miss living in that community.

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    2. I think the critique from some in the Black Lives Matter movement is apt. Have white women shown concern for black women, for the children of black women, for communities that are predominantly minority? I understand the application of a hermeneutic of suspicion.

      Liked by 1 person

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