The turning point for me was Wednesday night’s debate. Specifically, the moment it became clear to me that Hillary Clinton was defending the indefensible (partial-birth abortion), I felt a surge in my chest: Sympathy. Every part of my clenched-up heart, which had for so long been agitated at the thought of all those pro-lifers supporting Donald Trump, just… released.
I still wasn’t there myself. I still wasn’t planning to ditch my write-in dreams. But when I heard Clinton express her support for that most tragic of offenses, I suddenly felt the weight of the obligation that many feel to support her opponent, whoever he may be. I experienced an explosive growth in the sympathy I feel towards pro-lifers who have come to a different conclusion than I have.
After that first gush of sympathy made its way through my system, more followed: Sympathy for the loyal Republicans who feel like they need to support their nominee come hell or high water. Sympathy for the people so angry with the status quo that they value its disruption over every other consideration. Sympathy for those who are so preoccupied with one candidate’s faults that they see no option but to support the other. Sympathy for those who work in such good faith for their side, with so little prospect that it will one day embrace full, equal human rights.
That one moment, which divided an already-divided country even further like some hammer coming down onto a wedge, splitting a log for the fire – it changed something in me.
This election is coming at us whether we want it to or not. Nov. 8 will come and people will make decisions we disagree with and most of us will find ourselves saddled with a president-elect we dislike. Those are givens. There is nothing we can do to change that outcome.
There is, however, much that we can do to change our collective future. We can pray, we can reach out, we can work. We can mend relationships. We can build up our communities. We can serve the vulnerable. We can support the efforts of candidates and political parties who are playing a long game, focused on the years ahead.
Nov. 8 is not the end. It’s just a stumbling block. I’m ready to look forward and I’m grateful to have sympathy lead the way.
This post is part of a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on my personal blog, These Walls, on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.
Interested in coming along with me as I chew on politics, current events, and faithful citizenship? Like The Space Between’s Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my personal blog, These Walls.