If you swallow only poison, soon it will swallow you.
If you swallow only poison, soon it will swallow you.
Note: Just thought I’d give all two people who are probably going to read this a fair warning – below, I am going to be quoting from the Bible.
I know – that’s, like, such a thing that someone who’s internalized misogyny would do, I know. I understand that referencing the most influential book in the history of books in a country where most people at least claim to believe in the truth of said book can trigger some people. So, if you don’t want to be offended, just, uh, skip down a few lines.
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1
OK, it’s over now. You should be safe.
Over this past weekend, I’ve remained relatively quiet about certain events. I do not wish to be yet another loose tongue spouting unexamined trivialities and repeating popular hashtags. It’s just like how I am in class. I’m never the first to volunteer to answer a question or put forth my opinion; not because I didn’t do the reading or legitimately don’t want to share what I think – it’s just that I want to be sure that my words agree with what I actually think. I’m not just parroting the textbook or whatever the professor wants me to think.
Everyone is posting their opinions of our new President on social media. In my circles, most are negative. I even know some people who went to the Women’s Marches in Washington and Boston. A handful remain more positive about the new administration. I find myself pressing the ‘like’ button on a wide range of posts, not because I necessarily agree with everything they say, but because I believe that everyone has the ability to speak their minds at such a critical time in our nation’s history. I will always support my friends and family, even when they disagree with each other.
That being said, I have done a lot of considering in these recent weeks and days. I have weighed possibilities. I have thought even when I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. I wanted to be sure that, if I did write anything political, it was a true reflection of how I felt. And I have come to the conclusion that I, and probably many other young conservatives, am officially politically homeless.
Despite agreeing with many Republican ideas, throughout the entire campaign season, I could not bring myself to support Donald Trump, an apparent narcissist without any political experience, a serial adulterer who says he’s never had to ask God for forgiveness, whose administration now puts forth “alternative facts” that only serve to divide us further. Facts can’t contradict each other. Newsflash: the opposite of a fact is a falsehood.
Somehow, though, his brand of populism has infiltrated the GOP and has spoken to the disillusioned white working class.
Yes, the white working class. The people whom Hillary Clinton called deplorables, many of my friends, family, and neighbors, whom I still love. They returned her contempt and voted for a guy with a bright red baseball cap and slogan who, up until only a few years ago, was best known for firing people on a reality show and having a bad hairstyle. They put their faith in this figure. I didn’t do the same – no singular person, no matter how brilliant can singlehandedly make America great – but I can empathize. They were tired of what they saw as loss of jobs to foreign countries, to a failing economy in the mill towns and farm towns. They were tired of being condescended to by elites. They believed Trump when he promised to bring down the elite establishment and give the power back to the people.
So I don’t think that half the country should get thrown into Hillary’s deplorable basket for thinking a little differently. If we can’t understand why people think the way they do, why different opinions exist – if we just insist that they must be uneducated, racist, and sexist – our society will never progress. We won’t be able to communicate. That goes for the leftists and the alt-right and everyone in between. In a sense, we are already living this way, but it’s an ugly picture, and generally not because of the people many progressives would blame.
For an example of intolerance on the left, another large event that happened this weekend, besides the Inauguration: The Women’s March. In major cities all around the world, millions of people protested. I’m still not sure exactly what united them besides hatred of Trump. Normally, if these protesters were protesting the vulgarity with which Trump refers to women, the offenses which he refers to racial minorities, I would definitely agree with them. But, despite any threat from the Trump administration (because I doubt even the man whose name it bears has any idea what it’s going to stand for), these so-called feminists turned their opportunity to make legitimate progress in regards to our attitudes towards both sexes into a screaming match in which they demanded free birth control and abortions, as if you cannot treat women with respect and courtesy, not reducing them to their body parts…. Without reducing them to body parts (see the “pussyhats”, and also the sign that turned the Virgin Mary, the most revered woman in the world, into nothing more than a vagina… as if that’s supposed to be some kind of statement, as if, like, Christians don’t know that that’s where Jesus came from. That’s, like, the whole point of that big holiday you might have celebrated a month or so ago, but that could be a whole other post.).
I cannot align myself with these voices either, not because I don’t believe in the equality of the sexes, but precisely because I do. I guess you could say that, if we’re defining feminism as the belief that men and women are inherently and should be considered equal, that I’m a feminist who can no longer be a feminist. If Susan B. Anthony, the leading suffragette herself, were alive today, she wouldn’t be considered feminist enough for modern feminism because she was against abortion and never wanted the murder of human beings to be considered a right, yet she’s who these people point to when they say things to people like me such as, “You know, sweetie, if women hadn’t been protesting all along you wouldn’t have the right to speak your opinion, so you know, you have to agree with us.”
Real feminism has to reclaim its name. The modern, mainstream “feminist” movement has devolved from working towards equality for all to attempting to insist that we are more than our body parts, while simultaneously emphasizing them in vulgar signs and slogans and arguing that women aren’t free if we aren’t poisoning ourselves with carcinogens for consequence-free sex. That seems really liberating. I don’t know about you, but I can’t name one right that men have, at least here in the United States, that I, as a woman, don’t also enjoy. But that just might be all my subconsciously-internalized misogyny talking – who’s to say?
When the organizers of the March excommunicated the pro-life New Wave Feminists, they told me that I wasn’t welcome either. For what, you ask? For believing that even the tiniest men and women in the womb deserve equal protection, for daring to think that a “medical procedure” increasing my fellow women’s risks for depression and other problems maybe isn’t so empowering after all, for entertaining the radical idea that no woman, whether she’s a CEO or a stay at home mom, should be considered less. And for thinking that maybe our bodies are so radiantly beautiful that they deserve to be loved in their entirety.
So I’ve kissed the idea of my thoughts holding political sway goodbye. I only pray that each and every one of us can show each other love and kindness and that, just maybe, we can all make America great by first making our small corners of it a little better.
This is going to be the year. Maybe even the month, if I’m a real overachiever (which I am). The year of what, you nonexistent readers ask? Well, among other things, I’m finally going to nail down a real, messy first draft of my novel.
Which is probably the big bad secret project I’m working on and hide when you come near my computer. I have several, but that’s probably the one.
I have probably half of the first draft done as I write this, meaning that 1) I should stop writing this post and go work on it and 2) I still have a lot left to do because the story changed so much as I wrote the darn thing that parts of the beginning are now totally irrelevant. But fixing all those issues, like my lovely prologue that I’m going to cut, is what rewrites are for. And oh boy, am I going to need several rewrites.
But yes, my novel is happening and will happen. *insert cool sunglasses emoji here*
“Where will the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence”
~ T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”
As I begin to type out these first few words, I have what feels like a million other tasks pulling and poking at me from all sides, demanding my attention. This might be how I can tell that winter break is nearing its end, and in just a few days I’ll be back at school gearing up for another semester. Besides that, I’ll be trying to plan for the future and keep to a healthy social, spiritual, and writing schedule. Blech. That’s a lot of stuff for one brain to handle.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel like my bushes outside, getting blown back and forth by heavy winds.
This is especially jarring to me in the first few weeks of 2017, as one of my goals for the new year (I don’t really like the term resolutions because it’s not like you can flip a switch on January 1st and magically do everything you said you would the night before, but I still like making a list of goals to work on through the coming year… it feels like more of a process this way) was to structure my productivity. I would write a little every day, set aside a set amount of time for relaxation every day, etc…. yeah, nice try, past self.
Life always gets in the way. I tell myself I’m going to listen for God in the silence and then totally suck at managing time, so it turns out that I can’t find any quiet times before I’m too tired to keep my eyes open. Wake up in a fog, repeat. It’s a real drain.
Knowing that everyone feels like this doesn’t necessarily make it any better. What can we do to actually find the silence and embrace it and maybe carry it around with us throughout our days?
About a month and a half ago, on a seemingly normal Friday afternoon just like this one, I had a special experience during adoration. Well, all my experiences there are special, but this one in particular stands out to me. I was sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, praying, simply meditating on what it was like to actually be in God’s presence, breathing in the incense, letting the rest of the world fall away. This was towards the end of the semester, so I probably had three papers and two exams and also an entire magazine breathing down my neck. But they didn’t matter in those moments. I was entirely with Jesus. Every time, even if I only stay for ten minutes (which is never ideal, but sometimes what my schedule allows), I come away feeling healed and loved. Fulfilled. It’s the sweetest feeling in the world.
I remember looking around and realizing that there were only about three or four other people there, including the priest, in the entire chapel. Now, my college is a tiny Catholic school and most of the students there identify as Catholic. Why weren’t more people taking advantage of this opportunity?? (I realize now it probably has more to do with the fact that some people have classes on Friday afternoons and simply can’t make it to the one hour of adoration that’s offered around noon even if they want to. But in the moment, it seemed like a grave injustice).
At some point, tears started pouring out of my eyes, so overcome was I with emotion. I just felt so loved, so treasured, so close to the world’s source of goodness. I had to go out and share this feeling with the world. I wished desperately that I could, but it seemed somehow beyond me. Like it was a joyful burden too heavy to lift.
Because in our culture, when people start talking about God, they hear proselytizing. They imagine closed minds obsessed with other people’s sins, political debates about gay marriage and abortion and whatever other issues you can imagine that turn into screaming matches. Many people have had bad experiences. But maybe, if we could get past that somehow, if more people experienced this kind of peace, the rest of it would fall away. Maybe that’s the first step.
I don’t mean to say that cultural issues aren’t important or that Christians should keep their religion out of politics. To suggest so would ignore how faith forms conscience and opinions. But whatever you’re worrying about, Jesus is bigger than it. He transcends your ideology, whether liberal or conservative. He doesn’t need them. He shows himself to us in smaller, more personal ways. He breaks down your walls and makes you cry and hugs you as you melt into a quivering mass of goo.
I wish we talked about God in those terms: if you look for Him, He will bring you peace. Just sit in the silence and listen for His voice. Keep your heart open.
Maybe if more people took the time to be silent, our world would be a little less sharp, painful, hateful. Maybe we could bring back love.
Soon after that day, on my last night on campus for the fall semester, while trying to study for my English exam the next morning, I discovered this song by a band called Over the Ocean. I think it describes what I mean pretty well.
It’s here. That time of year when you tell yourself you’re going to magically fix all the problems in your life. You’re going to eat better, exercise more, finally finish that darn book you’ve been trying to write for years, read more, balance a social life with school work, try and make more of a contribution to society… the list goes on and on.
So far, the year’s been a mixed bag. I’m excited for a new semester, yet not ready for the stress that comes with it. I don’t want half of my time in college to be over, yet I know that it must be. On the bright side, so far, I’ve made some progress with my novel (though it’s still in the ugly first draft stage), spent time with family over break, deepened my prayer life with lectio divina, and started learning Swedish and Catalan on Duolingo, while brushing up on my Spanish and Italian. I’ve also discovered lots of new music and gotten to read some novels.
The thing is, sometimes I just don’t know what to write about, and that’s part of the reason why I shied away from writing on this blog for so long. I didn’t want to just be another voice yelling about the election. I didn’t want to waste my time writing things that I thought other people wanted to hear about. I created this blog for myself, and it should be a space where I can chronicle my personal growth, not Donald Trump’s narcissism. With the constantly changing news cycle to which we’re all exposed… I felt that I couldn’t keep an idea between my teeth long enough to get it out. There was never any peace, especially not at home around this time. I couldn’t get away long enough.
Another reason I didn’t blog for so long is that, after last semester, I felt totally burned out from a writing-intensive semester. But after a break, I’m ready to dive back in. I’m going to try my hardest to meet my goals this month and this year, and hopefully feel better along the way.