Monday, November 14, 2016

Putting Pen to Paper

...or fingers to keys, as it were.

Writing has long been a tool I use to process emotion. It's also the way I prefer to communicate. My mom would often get mad at me when I was younger because rather then tell her I had done something wrong, I would write her a note. It's how I would apologize to her after a fight, too. It's easy to dismiss this approach as cowardice--it is, after all, easier to write something than to say it to someone's face. But this dismissal fails to account for the fact that often, I can't say something out loud, as much as I might want to. I'm a rational, logical person. But I also feel emotions very strongly. And when I know that my emotions will interfere with my logic or rationality, I look for ways to dilute those emotions. Writing is usually the solution. If I try and say something to your face--something I care about deeply--there's a chance I'll fail because I cry or I get off track or you interrupt me. I'm normally confident in my ability to be articulate, but when I doubt my ability to be as articulate as I need to be, the written word will always be there for me.

So that's why I'm writing this. Because I have so many thoughts, fears, disappointments, and emotions right now. Completely free of hyperbole, I can tell you that I'm in mourning. Six days removed from the election, I can see slightly more clearly and I know that that mourning is not for an entire nation. I (still) believe in America. I (still) believe in the Constitution. And I want to believe that the structure of our government that has withstood nearly 230 years will remain undamaged four years from now.

But still I mourn.

I have not been quiet about my support of Hillary Clinton. But I haven't told many about my political journey over the last year--about going from "not that female president" to #ImWithHer. It has been a year full of research, of reading, of realization. It's a process that deserves its own post. Its own conversation. I have come to love Hillary Clinton for who she is, without reference to any other candidate. And trust me, knowing that she will not become this nation's first female president brings forth its own round of tears every day. I mourn that loss, that possibility, too. But again, that's not why I write.

I write because I thought I knew you. Maybe not you, specifically, who's reading this. But you my community, my religion, my friends, my countrymen. On November 7, I thought I knew who surrounded me as I drove on freeways and walked on city streets. I thought I knew whose tweets I liked. I thought I knew that even if we disagreed on politics, we agreed on morality. On kindness. On goodness.

I thought I knew that there were some people in this country who wore red hats and trolled my feeds and hashtagged #MAGA and that those were the people who supported a man who spews hate and greed and conspiracy and lies.

I thought there were people who said both #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump and that those were the people who refused to vote for Hillary for reasons I disagreed with but who also refused to vote for him for reasons I respected. I saw people talk about Evan McMullin and I was inspired. I was inspired to believe that my hope for the end of the two-party system could eventually become reality. I was inspired by people who knew that their candidate couldn't possibly win the election and who were principled enough to support him anyway. I thought many times, how neat would it be to see Utah neither red nor blue on CNN's election map but to see a third party win the state? Because even though I support Hillary and wanted her to win, I wasn't na├»ve enough to believe that a republican state would suddenly go blue. I did believe, though, that those who profess traditional republican values would be willing to support a traditional republican and vote for McMullin.

And on November 8, I was blindsided. Yes by the entire country who defied the polls. Yes by millions of Americans who support a man I find despicable. But mainly by people who I thought were similar to me. BYU fans and members of the Church. Members of a Church that decried hateful immigration and refugee policy proposals and rhetoric. Members of a Church that teaches love for your neighbors. Members of a Church that preaches respect for women, chastity, and godliness. I tremble as I type this truth: 61% of members of the Church voted for him. Voted for hateful immigration and refugee policy proposals and rhetoric. Voted against their neighbors. Voted for sexual deviance. For sexual assault. Voted against women. And while religion and politics are separate, religion and values are not. And I just. can't. believe it. I can't believe that so many of you who share my chapel and my temples and my name turned your back on what I thought united us.

Am I judging and generalizing? Yes. But that doesn't change the fact that since last Tuesday, every person I see, I wonder. I wonder, "Are you one of them? Did you vote for him? Did you do this?"

Twitter, a social network I loved, has been tainted. Because the same people I cheered with every time BYU scored a touchdown started to show their true colors last Tuesday. They came out of the closet, so to speak, and embraced a man publicly that prior to that day they had only supported in private. Maybe that support started during the primaries, or after the republican convention, or maybe only in the voting booth. But whenever that support started, they didn't admit or acknowledge it. They lied by omission. They tricked me into believing that whatever our disagreements, on one thing we could agree: He cannot be our president.

But then the election results rolled in. People who I had previously connected with and respected severed any connection and lost my respect. And I thought, if 6/10 Mormons voted for that man, did 6/10 BYU fans? And I thought, do the people who sit next to me at games agree with him? And I thought, we are not the same. And I thought, I don't want to be associated with you.

And I thought, how? and, why? and, is this real? and I cried.

And still I cry.

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