My stomach feels sick because I’ve been crying. Curled up in a ball under my covers sobbing. I stayed up too late and woke up too early. And I know I’ll crash and burn in a few hours, but there’s no way I can sleep right now. I could give you the litany of my fears. I could share with you the catastrophic scenarios of the future playing out in my mind. I could share the terror gripping my heart as I realize that about half of the people in this country hold values in direct opposition to my own.
The bottom line is that I am scared: scared for myself, scared for my children, scared for people who aren’t male and people who aren’t white and people who aren’t straight and people who aren’t rich (and I’m frankly not sure how even the rich straight white men are going to handle this), scared for the health of people and the health of the planet . . . The list is endless and I will stop now. Because as scared as I am, I also realize that fear is what has landed us here in the first place.
I do not understand much about what happened with the election, but I understand this: when people are afraid they cling to false hopes and make poor decisions. When people are scared enough, the truth no longer matters. Fear has a way of narrowing our vision so that only those closest to us, those most like us, matter. Fear blinds us to creative possibilities. Fear robs us of the energy we need to live well in this world.
So as we face a dark reality this morning, we should grieve; we should be angry; we should acknowledge the dangerous possibilities of the future. But we cannot be overcome by fear. Because we need real hope and we need to make wise decisions. We desperately need truth-tellers, compassionate visionaries, creative problem solvers. And we need energy—we need more energy than we will be able to muster if we let fear take hold too tightly.
I don’t mean today, friends. Today we should cry and eat chocolate and be with friends and pray deep wordless prayers and get out in the sunshine (because the sun will rise despite it all). Today, we do what we need to do to get through.
Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, though, it will be time to wipe our tears and open our eyes and get to work. I realize there is an awful lot of work to do. Perhaps we need a collective chore chart: you make sure people know that sexual assault is unacceptable; I’ll repeat “black lives matter” over and over and over again; she can work on disability rights and he can promote clean energy policies and another person can fight for rational gun laws and someone can advocate for immigrants and someone else for LGBTQ people and . . . Maybe I’ll make a sign-up genius.
It’s hard to know exactly how to move forward. But I trust there is a way. For now, (after the chocolate) I’m going to start with two of the most common commandments in scripture: Do not be afraid. Love one another.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Do not be afraid. Love one another.
And, of course, “Lord, have mercy.”