Thursday, December 01, 2016

Small Sips Considers Life Offline

Note. It may be that a certain percentage of regular readers are wondering why I haven't written a post related to last month's presidential election, the aftermath, the implications, the future, how it relates to faith, etc., etc., etc.

I have several reasons for this, the chief of which has to do with there being such a large swath of such reactions already written and shared that I don't know how I could write one that would stand out from them in any meaningful way.

Yes, I have disagreements and concerns and worries and fears about the next administration. But I haven't yet come up with something original that wouldn't be more than adding to the noise. So instead I'm devoting most of this month's Small Sips to a handful of pieces I've found the most interesting in light of those election results.

It works differently for everyone. Elsa Anders Cook reflects on the many calls to get over political grief quickly in order to get to work on activism and support issues:
This is how grief works. Something terrible happens. The worst thing that you ever could have imagined has now happened. You would not have dared to believe it before and now that it has and still you can’t believe it. You are in shock. You are scared. You are not sure how you’ll ever pick up and move on — though you know that you must. Your kids need you. Your friends need you. There are people that are counting on you and so you can’t stay with the pain and fear forever. And you don’t want to. You don’t want to go on feeling like this forever but grief does not allow you to ignore the fact that everything has changed. It won’t let you insist upon joy. It forces you to deal with all of that inner pain and fear.
This, dear friends, is not something that you can do quickly. It is not a momentary blip but the pain and the fear lingers for much more than just a night. It does no good to try to dismiss it or ignore it. It will hurt that much more if we try to move past it too quickly for this is how grief works.
Do not let yourself get overly consumed with why your neighbor or your brother or the person sitting next to you in worship isn’t as deeply grieved. Their grief is their own. Not everyone experiences grief in quite the same way. Try to remember this because while you might not be able to stop crying, not everyone cries on the outside. There is no right way to grieve and no possible way to push another through it, so don’t try. Tend to your own inner pain and fear before you spend too much time worrying about theirs.
I saw many calls to action similar to what Elsa saw, and I had a similar reaction: man, give us more than a day. I haven't slept well, I'm exhausted, I'm in shock. I can't think clearly in this state. But good for you for getting right back up to help the cause. Give some of us more time.

I feel better now. But still, not everyone might. That's fine. We come to this advocacy work after getting knocked down hard at our own pace.

The social media fatigue is real. NPR has an article on people quitting Facebook or going on unfriending sprees since the election:
But the vast majority of emails — some of them nearing 1,000 words in length — read like testimonials to a therapist: I'm having a hard time focusing. I have questioned my friendships. I can't stop scrolling. I'm exhausted. One email to NPR ended with: "It was good to get that off my chest." People are turning off TVs (one even canceled her cable — mass media are not off the hook, either), deleting social apps from their phones, rationing time spent on Facebook and Twitter, and shrinking their digital friend lists.
Facebook is a source of news for a majority of American adults, but in the vitriol and propaganda of the 2016 election, its proverbial public square for many users has devolved into a never-ending Thanksgiving-dinner debate — or an omnipresent Speakers' Corner. As Lowder says his father put it, opining on social media is the equivalent of shouting off a soapbox in the street: a declaration, rather than discussion.
I haven't yet unfriended anyone but I have cut back and maybe made a few strategic unfollow choices. Later in the article, there's a guy who shares how he used to unleash a constant barrage of articles reinforcing his viewpoint and then argue with those who'd disagree; now he's cutting back and trying to find ways to help people offline instead.

That's the track I'm trying to get on. There are a lot of mosques, women's clinics, refugee settlements, and migrant centers that are going to need love and support. I'd rather try to do that.

Staying out of the bubble. Kimberly Winston, a reporter with Religion News Service, attended a worship service the Sunday after the election hoping to find comfort and unity but instead found a celebration of the results:
How did we get to this place? How did we become so focused on our own ideas of what America ought to be that we — both Trump and Clinton supporters — missed each other’s howls of pain, cries for help and wailing of grievances? Can we ever get back from where we are now to a more unified country?
As an eternal Pollyanna, I would like to think so. But I left that church last Sunday feeling rebuked, rejected and foolish for thinking that by staying to hear the America I and many other reporters missed, ignored or wrote off, I would find some common ground, some way to hurt less. I did not.
I know that as a San Francisco Bay Area resident, I live in a big, shiny, Berkeley-tinted bubble. But I did not realize how big and completely imprisoning that bubble was until the moment the preacher said no one in this church could possibly have voted “the other way.” Go ahead, call me naive. But my personal bubble burst right then — exploded might be a better word — and for the rest of our trip I found myself staring at people in restaurants, in the rental car office, on the plane. Were they so far away from me, so utterly different, even as we seemed so close?
These are good questions without easy answers. However I have insulated myself in that bubble--and having served two churches in small Ohio towns, I like to hope that I'm not--I'll attempt to change that as much as work with real live people who will need help the next four years.

This, basically. New York Times columnist shares a list of 12 steps he will take in light of the election. The 12th pretty well sums everything up:
12. I WILL not lose hope. I will keep reminding myself that politics zigs and zags, and that I can do more than shout in the wind. I can fight for my values even between elections, and even at the micro level I can mitigate the damage to my neighbors and attempt to heal a social fabric that has been rent.
The others are also very good, and some of them echo other articles I've shared in this post. For my own part, I'm trying to think especially about the micro level, and how I can love my neighbors, both those in fear and those looking forward to the new presidency.

Okay, here's a statement. If you really want some original thoughts from me, here's the sermon I preached the Sunday after.



Misc. Jan Edmiston on pastors needing time to just stare into space. Gordon Atkinson on how ideas evolve from the fringes to the center of society. Aaron Smith on leaving the evangelical tradition but still finding plenty to like about Christianity.

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