This is the first time I’ve sat down at the keyboard to write something since Tuesday. I’ve been through a lot of the same shock and numbness that I’ve seen a lot of people vocalizing. Like most of my white friends, my shock was instinctually rooted in the fact that this country could elect a person like Trump – racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, admitted (proud) sex offender, etc – that shock is in willful ignorance of our POC and LGBTQ+ friends who have been TELLING US for years about the country we live in.
For a lot of people like me – who tend to rely on data and polls – we’ve been preaching that Clinton had it in the bag. Wrongness in the polls at that level would be certainly unprecedented and nearly impossible. We ignored that we’ve never had a candidate like Trump before, so of course something unprecedented was possible.
Over the last few weeks I’ve focused on the data, while many women, mostly the mothers, in my life have focused on their gut. Their guts hurt, they were worried, they couldn’t shake the sense of dread they were feeling.
To everyone: I’m sorry for ignoring you, I won’t make that mistake twice.
But this isn’t an election post, this is about service.
I’m a Veteran, and this being Veteran’s Day, if I decide to leave the house, someone will say, “Thank you for your service.” I’ve yet to meet a veteran who isn’t a little peeved by hearing that from a stranger. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the sentiment, people always mean well. For me, it’s that it devalues that word.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Cornel West:
“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.”
Love and service are intertwined and without love, service is a meaningless gesture built on sympathy or some other hierarchy where you’re putting yourself above others.
In my head the past few days there have been five words rolling around, looking for traction:
Magnanimity – our actions are rooted in grace, not fear and resentment.
Reciprocity – we give love and receive love in equal proportions so that we can rise together.
Community – we don’t look inward, we think of our neighbor first.
Love – we project it even in the face of hate or indifference.
Respect – we treat each other well, communicate directly, and choose radical honesty over politeness and comfort.
I choose these five things as my personal pillars. My guiding principles going forward. I choose to serve my world, love my friends, and stop shrinking away from my responsibility as a man of privilege to stand up and kick open doors.
If you’re reading this, I love you. Please share it and let’s start a revolution of the heart.