Since Inauguration Day, I’ve seen a lot of emotional outbreaks from the people of America — people on separate ends of the political spectrum, on separate ends of what it should mean to be a person of faith in America. These divisions have been reinforced with violent hate crimes and rants from church pulpits; they’ve resulted in people leaving the church and claiming that Christianity is nothing more than a white man’s religion practiced through discrimination and oppression.
Growing up as a conservative in the Bible belt, and now identifying as a progressive, I’ve seen and understood both sides of this particular divide.
Mostly, I feel like the church is imploding, and I am simply trying to maintain my own faith equilibrium in the process.
Since Inauguration Day, I’ve defined for myself and my family what it means to be an activist, and I’ve seen that spirit come alive in my 5-year-old, who has attended numerous protests with me and his dad. He’s made signs that say, “Save the Bees Around the World,” or one with the word “Peace” scribbled across the front. He knows what he cares about and he’s willing to let the world around him know what is important to his future.
So I’ve been watching the world through his eyes, wondering what the church looks like to him. Our children can see our hateful glances toward each other. They can hear our conversations about the people we disagree with and the insults we cast over anyone who is different than we are.
And I wonder if the world feels as heavy to him as it does to me.
While I write weekly letters to President Trump as my own act of keeping him accountable to the reality of people in America, I have felt heavy with the weight of what it means to care about this nation as a Native American woman.
I’m tired because the vision of this country and the church — or what we thought they stood for — is confusing and muddled.
But if we know anything, we know that things may get worse before they get better, and so we do not give up.
I will not give up on hearing and knowing the stories of the refugees and immigrants in my community.
I will not give up on the church, who is trying to navigate hateful waters with compassion and justice.
I will not give up praying for and supporting the people of Syria and the organizations on the ground helping them.
I will not give up my indigenous roots, and the vision that my ancestors have given me of a whole and cared-for world.
I will not give up on educating and listening to my children, who are the guardians of our future.
I will not give up my voice as a woman or as a worship leader, because it’s needed today.
I will not give up on my Republican brothers and sisters, because I’ve stood where they stand.
I will not give up the fight to educate myself on the policies of a president I don’t agree with.
I will not give up the work of listening to the stories of the people around me, because together we create a future America.
I will not give up on the vision of creation that Jesus always held, and I will spend my whole life searching for solutions to the problems we’ve created for Mother Earth.
So how are we feeling, a little over three months in?
We feel aged and tired, a little restless.
But we are not done.
The March for Science last weekend showed us that. And the People’s Climate March this weekend will show us what it means for the people of a country to stand up for what they value.
I’m not impressed with the decisions our president has made, and judging from his approval ratings, others aren’t either. But that doesn’t mean I give up on the human spirit that I share with the people around me. That doesn’t mean I give up on the church.
In Louisa May Alcott’s book, Little Men, Father Bhaer says to a room full of listening children, “Kindness is always better than force. Try it and see.”
What if we modeled this for our children, the way they model it for us?
Three months into the American presidency of Donald Trump, I admit that I am tired of the way we try to force each other to understand our point of view, or the way we force our own point of view onto others. I am tired of the force that has kept down people of color, women, and the poor in our society, and has kept those who are white, wealthy men ahead.
Still, I will choose kindness in my own activism.
I will teach my children kindness as they discover what they are called to do in this country and in this world.
And I won’t give up, because the survival of a world governed by love matters more than a short presidency governed by hate.