Friday, July 29, 2016

War? What War?

Yeah, maybe there's something wrong with me.

When Obama officially became the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, I remember thinking that, although I didn't want him to be president because I disagreed with him on so many things, it was a pretty cool thing that a black man was on a major party ticket. And on the day of his inauguration, I got a bit choked up at the meaning of the historical moment. A black president!

Last night was historical, too. Historical in a way that directly affected me more, since I'm a woman. But I wasn't fazed. Maybe if Hillary is inaugurated, I'll get emotional about it at that point, but I kind of doubt it. And I don't think it's a factor of disagreeing with her politics. Because again, I disagreed just as much with Obama's. I just can't get excited about a female presidential candidate. Seriously -- it means nothing.

I don't quite understand myself. "Women's rights" just isn't an issue that resonates with me. I don't at all feel like a victim in any kind of war on women.

It's not that I don't think women should get paid equally. It's not that I don't have a problem with cultures that treat women as property. I get that there are all sorts of injustices happening to women around the globe, and something should be done about them.

But . . . I don't know. I can't get myself riled up or excited about it.

Maybe it's because I don't think it ever once occurred to me in my life that I couldn't be president if I wanted to just because I'm a woman. I don't think there has ever been anything that I wanted to do that I haven't been able to do because I'm a woman (other than, you know, lift heavy objects . . . and that's not really because I'm a woman: that's because I'm a wimpy woman).

Maybe it's because my mother was never a big women's rights person. I don't remember her ever discussing it at all. She was a very contented homemaker and probably never felt held back by her gender either. But I'm also quite sure she was one of the ones encouraging me there was nothing I couldn't do in my life. As if gender just wasn't an issue -- not that it was an issue we now had victory over.

Maybe it's because, while I have experienced (not personally) blatant racism in my life, I have not experienced or even witnessed blatant misogyny. But I have certainly heard females cry "misogyny" when I thought the charge was quite unwarranted. (Of course, I've heard unwarranted cries of racism as well, I guess. I think it's sometimes easier to believe there's injustice in the way you've been treated than to believe that you yourself were somehow at fault or inadequate.)

I don't know. I don't get myself. I felt no swell of pride or relief or joy at the idea of a woman heading a major party ticket last night. I heard no glass ceiling shatter. I never saw a ceiling. I don't think I was looking up there -- I was busy looking elsewhere, I guess. Maybe someone will say I'm not ambitious enough. I think I just figure that God builds my house; he designs the layout, determines the number of bedrooms, and sets the heights of my ceilings. And He builds our houses to individual specs, based on the work He has for each of us. My ceiling is where it needs to be to do the work He has for me to do.

Too simplistic? Too lethargic? Maybe. But there's something to be said for contentment.

So while I'm wondering about myself today, I have to say that I'm not that bothered by my reaction -- or lack of reaction. I'm mostly concerned what I might be communicating to my daughters. Should I be worried that my lethargy on the matter is a negative quality that they will pick up from me and that will be a detriment to them for the rest of their lives? Am I hurting them in some way by not instilling them with a pride in their gender and in how far their gender has come in our society and a determination to move their gender further?

I don't think so. I think they have a pretty healthy view of gender. It matters where it matters, and it doesn't where it doesn't.

And in politics, we don't think it matters.

Friday, July 8, 2016

On Hope and Wisdom and Fathers

My father was a deeply intellectual and profoundly faithful Christian man. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was twelve . . . retired from teaching when I was fifteen . . . was in a nursing home when I was twenty-one.

Which means that by the time I was old enough to recognize the wisdom I wanted to glean from him, it was no longer there for the gleaning.

This has been a regret of mine. I have several times over the years mourned the lost lessons I could have learned from my father. This week is one of those times. Today, I wish I could ask my father this question:

How do you maintain hope?

My father had very high expectations and strict morals. I remember him telling me, with disgust, about the students in his college years who attended school dances -- such things were quite inappropriate, in his mind. I can only imagine the horror he felt at the moral decay he saw happening as a professor on his college campus during the 60s.

He was a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II. I can only imagine the frustration he felt at the anti-war protests of the 60s and 70s.

And I specifically remember his spitting out the label "crook"  when referring to Richard Nixon.

Between the sexual revolution, government corruption, civil rights violence, and Vietnam, it had to feel to him like the country was imploding. Going to hell in a handbasket.

Just like it feels to me now.

How do you maintain hope, Dad?

Intellectually, I can know God is in control. I can know that the country has been through worse and survived. I can know that God's plan and purpose are bigger than our country.

But I'm tired of feeling sad and hopeless.

Did Dad feel like God was judging the nation, like I feel? Did he cry out to God for mercy for a people who never deserved the grace He has shown them, like I do? Did he sit and think that there must be something to be done . . . something he could do . . . some answer to the crises . . . and feel lost when no answer came to him but pray, love, pray, speak truth, pray, pray, pray . . .

. . . like I do?

We need wise fathers today. Wise mothers. God grant us mercy, and grant us wise fathers and mothers. And grants us ears to hear them.