Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Now?

With my baby strapped to my chest, I walked down the sidewalk, breathing in the slightly chilled air. Whispering Ave Marias under my breath, I thought of the Third Glorious Mystery-The Descent of the Holy Spirit. I stepped in the direction of my apartment, eager to eat some lunch and try to put Peter down for a nap. Ahead, I could see one of my neighbors standing alone. Hunched over on his patio, glumly looking at his phone. 

He's a nice man, but at the moment, I didn't want to stop for a long chat-I wanted food! Oh wait, he's turning to walk inside, so he may not even be there when I walk by his patio to the building's door. But, just then, my  baby spontaneously squealed. My neighbor looked back at us, a big smile covering his face as he walked back to the patio so he could talk with us. 

It's okay. Lunch can wait. I think I need to talk with him.

We made small talk, and my neighbor--an older man, who does not have any children of his own--gleefully smiled and talked with Peter, delighting in my cheerful baby. Then, at one point, the man made a comment about "We'll have to see how this experiment goes." 
Oh. "I'm assuming you're talking about the political experiment that this country is going through?" I asked. He replied in the affirmative, and just like that, we began talking politics. 

I do not often talk politics with other people. At all. Doesn't happen. This election pushed me to blog about politics a few times, but I try so hard to stay away from political discussions with people other than my husband or a few of my relatives. But, I stood there for at least half an hour, talking politics with this neighbor, a man who identifies as a Liberal Democrat (a political label that I do not identify with). 

And do you know what? We had an awesome conversation.

 While I'm sure we disagree on a myriad of issues, we didn't have to talk about those. Instead, I listened to him pour out the frustrations he experienced watching the election alone last night. We talked about the need for good leadership in our country. We discussed education and job training. We talked about dangerous ideologies that are sweeping our culture, like entitlement. We groaned over overly-sensationalized news sources. And, in all of this, we built a bridge of community and fellowship. At some point, my baby fell asleep, so I explained that I had to go put Peter down for a nap. My neighbor thanked me for talking with him, and turned to walk inside. But, he stopped himself and said, 
I need to tell you:  I feel better after talking with you than I did before. Thank you. 
Moments later, as I tucked my sweet baby in bed, I thought about this more. When I woke up this morning, I soon jumped onto social media and news websites as I read about the election. While this is good, it does not substitute for actual human interaction. The man that I came across, my neighbor, was all alone. He lives alone, is a liberal Democrat in a fairly red state, and doesn't have many people around him who he can talk or relate to. But talking with me-and finding common ground that we could discuss and agree on-made his day better and helped him muddle through this day. 

Across social media, a big question that I've seen people dealing with is: "What now?" How do we as a country, and we as individuals, move forward from the presidential election of 2016? Learning from my conversation earlier, here's my response to this question.  
We need to get away from the political posts and division online. We need to build bridges of trust and respect with other people in our neighborhoods and communities. We need to listen to each other, truly listen and try to see how-and why-other people hold the views that they do. And we need to work together to uphold the dignity of all people.
Go out there and bring the light of Christ into your community! Really, go. Get away from your computers and phones, and talk with the people in the streets, in the coffee shops, in the stores, in your neighborhoods. And together, we can create a culture of love, respect, and compassion.  


  1. Yes! So true. I think it we spent more time talking TO each other and not just AT each other online we would all be much better off.

    1. Oh definitely. Over the past several months, I've noticed that platforms like Facebook have basically turned into areas where people just spit out whatever they are thinking or feeling, with no desire to actually converse in a rational manner. In fact, that's one of the reasons why I like blogging so much-because often, it seems that people who blog are desiring to put forth ideas AND have conversations with their readers about it, which I really like :)

  2. So true. I love this. I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday (via texts) who has different political views than I do, but we found a lot of common ground and it encouraged me. I think the Internet causes tempers to flare quicker and hotter than before. I've found myself wishing lately that we didn't have the Internet. I don't really mean that...but sometimes I do ;)

    1. Yay Michelle! That is awesome that you were conversing with your friend like that. Haha oh yes, I have a definite love-hate relationship with the Internet. I love it, and especially since I'm a SAHM it helps me connect with the larger world...but it also creates some insane situations.

  3. Very true, AnneMarie. I think the relative anonymity of being online--or at least not having to look others in the eye--emboldens people to say hurtful and sometimes hateful things that they wouldn't necessarily say in person. Face-to-face interaction helps us connect with people in deep ways. We can find common ground more easily and have patience as we hear differing viewpoints. I agree with your encouragement to go.
    I'm so glad your neighbor felt better. You never know what sort of impact something as simple as a conversation can have.

    1. Shannon, that is such a good point about anonymity! You are absolutely right. It's amazing to know that God can use something seemingly insignificant-like a short conversation-in pretty incredible ways.