you can’t be…

We’ve heard the binary juxtapositions. For example:

  • You can’t be pro-life and vote for Biden.
  • You can’t really be black and vote for Trump.
  • You can’t be Catholic and vote for Biden.
  • You can’t love someone who’s gay and vote for Trump.

Let’s add a few more…

  • You can’t vote for Biden and believe competency is important.
  • You can’t vote for Trump and believe compassion is important.

Or better yet…

  • You can’t vote for Biden and not support socialism.
  • You can’t vote for Trump and not support racism.

And maybe still most fascinating…

  • You can’t not be a hypocrite and vote for _____ (feel free to pick a name).

Friends, I get it. We are a principled and passionate people. We believe what we believe for a reason. 

But we cannot reason for another. To be respectfully but truthfully bolder, we are not capable of reasoning for another, as each of us experience the world differently, and those individualized experiences shape our view of the world. Our view of the world shapes our vote.

So while it makes total sense we’d have difficulty comprehending many of the above combinations, it makes far lesser sense to craft such simplified, binary conclusions. 

Simplified binary conclusions are the result of seeing another person’s life through our own lens. 

Knowing then how tempted each of us is to view another through “my” lens, so-to-speak, I’m left wrestling with three aspects in regard to voting, reason, and what I can’t comprehend.

First, as we acknowledge the significance of suffrage in a nation that embraces freedom, I’m struck by the wise words of Chief Justice Earl Warren in Reynolds v. Sims (1964): “The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.” I think of the right to vote freely; who am I, therefore, to judge how another should vote?

Second, there is much in this world I don’t understand. There are indeed many ways people behave that make absolutely zero sense to me. But when that happens — especially when it’s a person I know, love, or simply one God’s allowed in my path — I prioritize the following: (1) ask sincere, respectful questions, (2) recognize individual life experience is different, and (3) resist making conclusions that are clearly based more on my way of thinking than on theirs. Most often, when I feel capable of constructing simplified conclusions, it’s more because I don’t want to take the time and do the hard work to understand someone who thinks differently than me. 

And lastly, when I take that time and do the hard work and still don’t understand, I walk away with a singular wonder — about self, not another…

There are some things I am incapable of understanding. 

And that’s ok.