Will You Be a Witness?

img_4294Tonight is the big night at the Republican National Convention. The Donald, the candidate so many thought wouldn’t make it through the primaries, will accept the party of Lincoln’s nomination. Sit on that one for a minute, especially if you are a Republican or grew up in Republican family.

I’m not going to pretend here. I’m not a fan. In fact, after watching Gov. Chris Christie whip the crowd into cheers of “Lock her up!” I realized that was as close to a modern-day lynch mob as I wanted to get. I truly expected an effigy of Hillary Clinton to appear somewhere in the middle of the arena floor.

But I want to encourage all of you to consider watching tonight. And watch next week. Watch it on C-SPAN or streamed without commentary if you are able to. Watch and listen. Open your eyes and your heart, and don’t let it all crush your soul. Find what gives you hope and cling to that because politics is not the answer. But ignoring what is happening in politics in our country also is not the answer.

Evangelicals, particularly the white ones, are getting a bad rap this election cycle, and I can’t say it’s undeserved. The rise of Trump’s candidacy is being connected to white evangelicals and everywhere on my social media feeds are white evangelicals crying out, “Not this white evangelical!”

But that doesn’t excuse you from paying attention and washing your hands any more than reminding me your grandparents didn’t own slaves or live next to any Japanese families who were interned excuses you from understanding and examining how history impacts currently realities. As Christians we cannot read scripture and say the history recorded in scripture and around the same time the Bible was written have no impact on our lives. How can we be so ignorant as to believe the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, internment, unjust immigration laws of the past have no impact on how our churches, communities, schools, and laws currently function? (I’ll have to write more on all of that later.)

Be a witness. Many of my friends and I have described this week to a train wreck that we can’t seem to take our eyes off of. We know it’s crazy. We know it’s scary. We know that maybe we should avert our eyes or take cover from a possible explosion.

I’d like to think that it isn’t self-hatred that draws us back or a cynicism too deep to unravel in a blog post. I’d like to think that I am watching because there is a responsibility to be informed.  I’ve been watching because I have friends and neighbors who are seeing something very different this week, seeing it through and processing it through a different lens and I want to be a witness from a different angle. It will be the same next week. I realize there are all sorts of privileges that are connected to being able to cease work and connect to a television to watch, but if you’re reading this blog you’re already there in that space of privilege. My dear readers, please use it.

Use your privilege to educate yourself. Read reports from different news sources. Watch tonight and again next week. Ask questions of friends who believe different things but also want the same things. Don’t rely on witty tweets (though mine are pretty funny) and memes. Watch. Watch and read. We need to be witnesses.

Pro-life, Tea Party & Other Dinner Conversations With the Kids

Dear Readers,

How do you talk with your children or the children in your lives about politics? Or do you talk with your children about politics?

Honestly, it wasn’t an aspect of parenting I had thought much about until ‘becoming an American’. Personal opinions are one thing, and I have plenty of opinions. Engaging in conversations with friends, neighbors, church members, etc. have been enlightening, challenging, frustrating, and important. But as my children are growing up in an amped-up informational age and in a community where classmates come dressed up as political figures (I’m not joking. Four years ago there was a mini John McCain with mom dressed up as Sarah Palin.) or have parents running for local office, we are finding the need to address politics.

My two boys get an hour of screen time a night, with exceptions made because of the ink in my veins. I am a news junky, and this election season offers me a new outlet and responsibility. As a fairly recent naturalized citizen, this will be the first time I cast a vote in a presidential election. So the television has been on more often this fall. And the newspaper (an actual ink & paper newspaper) and news magazines linger a little longer.

Which has meant my kids are asking more questions, and dinner conversations are getting interesting. And difficult.

Tonight the 13 y.o. son parroted back a political ad that has been getting quite a bit of airplay out here: So and so candidate is pro-life without exception and has sided with the Tea Party.

“What does that mean? Pro-life without exception? And what is the Tea Party?’ he asked.

Peter and I did what I think was the best we could do. We answered the question (with thought bubbles in italics) and waited for C to ask for further explanation (which he didn’t):

Us: Pro-life in politics often focuses on abortion rights, but we also want you to think about the death penalty. (But I’m also thinking that if it’s really just about abortion it should be pro-abortion/anti-abortion.)

‘Without exception’ can mean a few things, but again in this political race it is addressing abortion in the case of rape. (Or for some the issue is really ‘legitimate rape’ and whether or not a woman can get pregnant as a result of a ‘legitimate rape’.)

The Tea Party is a group of folks who have common convictions about the role of the American government and were generally unhappy with how the Republican party addressed some of those issues. (Some of the Tea Party’s rhetoric scares me, and as a family of Asian Americans we should all be afraid. Can you pass the salt?)

There are still many political ads left to go before election day, and I am certain that our dinner conversations will circle back to politics in the next few days. So when the conversation circles around to politics, do you try to stay non-partisan? Do you engage? Any advice?