Thing 20: Vote Democratic

I’ve heard the Internet is a great place to discuss politics, so pull up a seat while I pitch in my two cents.

I’m a white lady from an upper middle class home in the tightest notch of the Bible belt. I have voted for the Republican candidate in all both elections I’ve been eligible.

(Basically this means I’ve never voted for Barack Obama which makes sad because now I’m in love with the First Family).

So what happened?

Well, I saw some really passionate Facebook posts and changed my mind.

False.

I’ve lived a little more and I’ve seen a little more and I’ve tried to listen a lot more. These are my experiences. They aren’t right or wrong or even up for debate. These are true stories that have changed the way I feel about two issues fundamental to a candidate’s view.

A wall is not the answer.

A student sat at her desk with her forehead buried in her arms. She hadn’t moved all morning. I assumed she just needed some space. Perhaps she woke up too early or maybe wasn’t feeling well. In the hustle of morning routine, I let her be. I assumed she would work through whatever was bothering her or come talk to me when she was ready. When it was time for PE, she still hadn’t moved. I sent the rest of the class on and stayed behind with her. I sat down next to her and began rubbing her back. smoothing her jet black hair off of her face. She finally looked up at me with wet brown eyes and said, “They took my dad.” I pulled her close and not knowing what else to do, I began to pray for her aloud. I knew that those actions could get me in trouble, but I also knew that comforting this girl was worth the punishment. It took some investigating but I found out that her father had in fact been deported the night before.

It’s easy to point fingers and say Mexicans are taking our jobs and breaking the laws and should be punished immediately. Because that’s true: her dad was breaking the law. He came to the US illegally and was working illegally. Under the law, that should be punished. But he made these decisions to better provide for his family. He had three children in elementary school.

Here’s what else I know: if I needed to break a law to give my son an infinitely better life, I wouldn’t hesitate.

Build a wall if you have to. But there are people on the other side of it. People Christ has commanded us to love. They are literally our Neighbor. No asterisk. No footnote. No buts. No room for interpretation. Love Your Neighbor. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know it isn’t a wall.

Gun control and the Second Amendment can coexist.

I come from a family of hunters. I grew up around guns. There was (and I’m pretty sure still is) a gun cabinet in my parent’s basement. I don’t think this small arsenal ever made me feel either unsafe or protected growing up. It was just there. My parents were always very clear: If I want to touch the guns, just ask. I was never interested because the fact that I could touch them if I asked made them boring. They might as well have been my grandma’s china boxed away in the pantry. They were there and they weren’t to be played with and that was the end of it. Those guns were for hunting and protection while hunting.

Fast forward to January 2013, three months after the attacks on Sandy Hook Elementary.

I’m getting ready to lead 24 nine and ten year olds in a fantastic writing lesson. I am pretty pumped about it. Then we heard the principal’s voice over the speaker: Mr. Red is in the building.

“Mr. Red” was the code name for lockdown, so as not to scare the children.

My class huddled in the corner of the room farthest from the windows and away from the door. They sat cross-legged and silent, looking to me for comfort. I craned my neck and stretched my eyes, trying to bend my vision around the window of the door and get a sense of what was happening inside the main building. I couldn’t see anything except the trees and the darkened windows of the second grade hallway across the lawn. I pulled paper over the window and sealed it with masking tape.

I smiled at my students remembering the goal for all this: don’t scare the children. I didn’t know of a drill scheduled for the day (the fact that schools have drills for active shooter situations is absurd enough). I checked my inbox, even though we had been specifically instructed to keep all electronics off so their lights didn’t give away our location. No new messages. I texted my friend who taught kindergarten and whose classroom windows opened to the front of the building.

–What’s going on?

–Lots of police cars.

And then nothing. This wasn’t a drill. Mr. Red was in the building.

Enough time had passed my students started coming to the same conclusion. A group of girls wrapped their arms around each other and their whispered prayers rose up from the their circle. Several boys stared at their sneakers. Their tears wouldn’t stay in their eyes. Another had a book open but I knew he wasn’t reading.

I opened a cabinet door, signaling to the kids that I was preparing for our next lesson. Among the reams of construction paper and glue sticks, there was a basket full of rounded edge scissors, some spray adhesive, and a small hammer I had used to hang up wall decorations at the beginning of the school year. With enough force, the hammer could probably stop an active shooter. I slid it off the shelf and snuck it to the book case closest to the door, hopeful no one saw me. Don’t scare the children.

Half an hour had passed. A few others joined the prayer circle. I almost joined them but sat instead between the door and my huddled students, the hammer within arm’s reach.

A person who believes semi-automatic weapons don’t need more regulation has never quizzed math facts to a room of terrified students in an effort to drown out the sound of sirens. They have never fought to kept their body language in check while assuring crying children everything is okay. They’ve never tried to explain why their classroom is a safe place even though twenty 6 year olds were shot to death in theirs.

I’ve done those things. I never want to again.

////////

If you’ve not yet voted, here are some quick links on each of the candidate’s views on two issues which have come to be important to me.

Donald Trump on immigration

Hillary Clinton on immigration

Gary Johnson on immigration

Evan McMullin on immigration

Donald Trump on gun control 

Hillary Clinton on gun control

Gary Johnson on gun control  (although this is not from his campaign site and I’m not positive about the bias of this particular site)

Evan McMullin on gun control 

Jill Stein’s platform on all issues

 

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