I recently had the misfortune of reading an opinion piece so filled with judgment, hypocrisy, and misplaced disdain that I could scarcely believe what I was reading. On the other hand, I suppose the author voiced what many liberals feel but are unwilling to speak out loud, so props for honesty, I guess.
The nutshell is that this middle-aged liberal white woman from Kansas was traveling over Thanksgiving with her 12 year old black son, and he ended up sitting next to another middle aged white woman from Kansas on the plane. Let me share my “favorite” part of her story here for you:
“I tried to focus on the fact that even the most aggravatingly befuddled person in front of me at the kiosk was likely going to see loved ones.” “[T]he only thing that matters ever - and which at their best, holidays remind us of - is our connection to family, or the chosen family of friends, that feeling of warmth, safety, and belonging that all human beings crave. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was my child having to sit next to a Trump supporter.”
So, that’s the foot we are off on: “The only thing that matters ever…is our connection to family…that feeling of warmth, safety and belonging that all human beings crave,” juxtaposed immediately with, “BUT TRUMP!” The hypocrisy here is overwhelming. She is trying to paint herself as this altruistic being who is willing to overlook all of the aggravating passengers flying that Thanksgiving weekend, because family and love are all that matter, “ever.” And yet…let’s just say that she was less full of grace than she tried to portray during this time for reflecting on our greatest blessings.
The author also noted that she “was kind of bemused” that her son has “met so few Trump fans that he found it noteworthy.” She went on to say that maybe this sort of encounter is a good thing. “Maybe it’s good to get out of our liberal bubble from time to time. After all, aren’t the pundits always saying that our real problem is political polarization, division, an inability to reach across the aisle? My son had met a person who voted for the person our family didn’t vote for, and she was friendly to him, and so wasn’t this a good thing?” She concluded this philosophical exercise by concluding, “that’s not how it felt.”
The liberal mom just couldn’t handle the whole scenario. In her story, she rants and raves about the things that she wishes she had said to the woman, essentially pinning every single thing that she thinks is wrong with this country on this poor random woman on the plane who was nice to her son. She actually said that she judged her, with a bit of pride in that statement coming through.
The thing that irritates me the most about her angry reaction to this woman is that she reduced her to nothing more than her vote. Because of how she voted, this woman is now the embodiment of everything that Trump stands for, everything he has done (or hasn’t done), and even those things that are just ascribed to him without being true. This poor woman now bears that entire burden, according to this liberal mom. I will spare you an alternative example to show just how unfair this is, I’m sure you can imagine it for yourself. I didn’t vote for Trump (or Hillary), but if I had, I certainly wouldn’t want to be held to account for most of his behavior, tweets, or actions just because I ultimately decided that he was the lesser of two evils.
The liberal mom is right, “political polarization, division, [and] an inability to reach across the aisle” is what is wrong with our country right now. Yet she could not seem to fully accept that someone who voted for Trump can be set apart from him, and can be a good person. She can't seem to find a way to bridge that division. In fact, by reducing the woman on the plane to her vote, she is dehumanizing her, which is exactly what soldiers in war are trained to do to the enemy, to make it easier when they have to kill them. It is not something that we should be doing in our culture.
As a Christian I can separate this liberal mom from her vote (presumably for Hillary), and see her as a caring mother, and a woman who wishes the world were a better place. I can give her grace for not understanding the sinful nature of humans, and how that manifests in the worst ways in our society. I can forgive her for not seeing that we should never judge each other individually, especially pridefully, for the sins of our culture, or for the sins of whoever we vote for, or for the sins of anyone really, even our own sins. We are often warned against throwing stones in glass houses after all.
We all wish the world were a better place, but Christians understand that things will never be perfect here. We each must just focus in our own way on making it better, as much as we are able. Believe it or not, while this liberal mom thought that voting for Hillary might help with that, other people thought that voting for Trump would accomplish the same thing. We each have a different perspective, and maybe even a different idea of what “better” looks like, but we are all trying to achieve that same overarching goal, in our own way.
Maybe, if she really believes that “the only thing that matters ever” is family and the feeling of “belonging that all human beings crave,” she could take a little more time to reflect on how the woman would have felt if she had said some of the things she wanted to say. The woman on the plane actually came up to her and complimented her on “what a great young man [she] was raising.” That was an action that helps to promote a sense of belonging, of appreciation, and of love. We need to stop rushing to judge negatively, start searching for the positive, and try to be a light in a dark world. The woman on the plane was a great example of that, and I truly hope that she never reads this liberal mom’s screed against her, because we need more people like her in the world, not less.