The President will deliver his State of the Union address this evening. As usual, there will be sniping and strutting among our elected officials, members of the press, and the general public. It becomes difficult in this climate to safely express your opinion if it is in the minority. You open yourself up to potential ridicule and public shaming. People can misjudge you and make incorrect presumptions about your stance on other issues (related or not to the issue at hand). So what can one do to effect change? One can live an authentic life, authentic to one’s principles and codes. Leave the judging to others. Speak with actions and votes. Be authentic. Your life and your principles are honorable if and when they honor God.
Live a life of love and honor. Treat others with respect whether or not you think they “deserve it”. You see, a respectful climate doesn’t just happen. For instance, if you are with a group of people and they start speaking in a bigoted fashion, or telling dirty jokes or prejudicial jokes, you can do something. You can say, “would you mind if we changed the channel? I am really uncomfortable, and I would really appreciate it”.
The group’s decision is beyond your control, of course. They can kindly or begrudgingly honor your request. To which you can respond, “gosh, thank you!”. Or they can attack and say you are too sensitive or have no sense of humor. To which you can say, “by your definition, I would say that is true. I understand, and I will leave so that I do not bring your gathering down. ” But here is the key. You can’t act bratty. You act as though their and your stance are both reasonable. Doing it that way honors your OWN decision to create a respectful climate filled with your care and kindness, wherever you go. It can make you bold, brave, principled yet kind.
Will any of this change the behavior of those in Washington DC? Oh probably not. But YOU will have honored your principle. You will have brought that to the feet of God. That is the true point, after all! During the speech tonight, God will have me elsewhere. One of my students just so happened to need to switch to the time tonight when the speech and follow-up haranguing will be taking place. God is so subtle !
“Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost. ”
— John Quincy Adams