This post that will mostly be from Elizabeth Gilbert, a lovely writer of deep, spiritual books that you’d really enjoy.
But first, a little background: There is a guy who’s been nominated for the Supreme Court with baggage that has stirred up a giant storm of pain and anger and politics. I can’t help but to think the debate is (to probably misquote Shakespeare) “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” because I’m pretty sure the vote will go straight down party lines, just like it would’ve without the accusations, tears, investigations, or arguments.
Anyway, here is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram post, called ‘Integrity Check”:
“Dear Ones: It’s Monday morning and the godawful news cycle is about to begin again. Before I start getting high off the crack pipe of outrage, I decided to do an integrity check on myself. It’s not fun or pretty, but here goes:
1) Did I give Bill Clinton a complete and total pass on being a lying skank about women, because he was my guy and I liked his politics? Answer: Yes. So can I really “not believe it” when others do the same, for the politicians and candidates they like?
2) What if the tables were turned, and Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House? What if my side had a chance to hastily shove a lifelong appointee on the Supreme Court who agreed with ALL MY BELIEFS—thus ensuring that for the next 30 years, every cause that I valued would be protected? Would I be tempted to overlook or excuse that candidate’s various character defects, lies, and crimes in order to secure this priceless seat on the Supreme Court? Answer: Probably yes. So can I really “not believe it” when others do the same?
3) Do I preach love and courage and peace and inclusion, but then use my social media platforms to spew rage and fear and panic and condemnation? Do I constantly use the language of war, with the delusion that this will somehow lead to peace? Answer: Yes. So can I really “not believe it”, when others do the same?
4) Do I claim to speak for all women, in a way that some women would find profoundly insulting? Do I make blanket proclamations about how “we women are angry,” or “we women will rise up and take our revenge” — ignoring the fact that literally millions of women have completely different beliefs from me? In claiming to speak for all women, do I therefore drive an even bigger wedge between those of us who identify as progressive feminists and those who do not? Answer: yes.
5) Do I spend my days being outraged and indignant at other people’s lack of integrity, and then forget to check my own? Answer: yes.
6) Can I be an activist and advocate, but still do the hard work of identifying my own blindspots, my own shortcomings, my own hate, and my own failures of grace? I sure hope so. Because I’m the only person I’m in charge of.”
Now, that is absolutely brilliant, because in times like this, we can get very self-righteous and the imaginary walls that separate us get thicker and higher and divisions get more pronounced. There are important issues at stake, that we are rightfully passionate about, but once the discourse goes from platform to platform instead of face to face, it’s no longer about the issue or the person, it’s about the letter that follows the politician’s name. She is an ‘R’ so she must be some sort of way, and he is a ‘D’ and we know what that means, right? We forget ‘they’ are people just like us… in fact, we often forget that we are people, with experiences and agendas and biases, and not completely objective robots with a exclusive handle on truth and common sense. We all have the capacity for boundless hypocrisy.
I think the answer is not to give up – you know I whole-heartedly reject “it is what it is” despair. We can, and should, and must, fight like crazy for the things we believe, vote for or against this guy, and settle for nothing less than honesty, integrity, respect, care for each other and shalom for all (even though we will regularly be disappointed.) But marginalizing each other in the service of our causes, reducing us to only our political affiliations, or a value or belief we hold, is simply too high of a cost.
It’s easy to hate a letter, or an elephant or donkey, or a race, nationality, or sex, but it’s really really hard to hate a person, because people are terrific. Sure, sometimes we’re mean and say and do terrible things, but we’re also soft and generous and warm and kind and honest and loyal and radiate the most beautiful energy.
I would not minimize the importance of this appointment, I understand the consequences, but politicians aren’t the answer to the revolution – we are.