Most people have heard parts or all of Barack Obama's speech on his pastor and race in America. I don't want to start a political blog telling people who to vote for or why. I believe everyone has the obligation to study the candidates and vote for the person they believe will make the best president. That being said, I do have some strong feelings on the recent debate involving Obama and his former pastor.
First let me say that Jacob and I are a religious family. We belong to a protestant church where we believe that all people should be welcome and all view points should be respected. I do not always agree with my pastor and I do not agree with everything that the church says. I do believe in the basic prinicpals of the church and the majority of what is said at the pulpit.
I believe that Obama is probably in a similar situation. Just as I have faced discrimination in my career because I am a woman, he has faced disrimintation because he is black. He has most likely faced more discrimination than I have but we have both felt the pain and frustration of bigotry. He is a good example of how discrimination and bigotry can be overcome.
He spoke of not letting the events in the past cause us hatred today. He is correct there also. It is very easy to be victimized by a person and let that hatred overcome everything we do. I have faught feelings of hatred after experiencing discrimination and hateful comments from my co-workers but I refuse to let those people define who I am.
America has come along way in accepting people who are different than the majority and letting all people contribute to society. Racism is not seen or felt as much as it once was. I know my son will experience it as he grows just as I have experienced sexism. Whether it was someone telling me I shouldn't be in martial arts because it isn't a good sport for girls or not responding to my calls for assistance at work, the sexism affected my life. It did not stop me though. I am still a law enforcement officer, still participate in sports and still do not care if someone believes it is ok for a woman to do.
I believe it is good that a potential president is willing to overlook some negative beliefs and see the person behind those beliefs. We all must work with people who have view points that disgust us. I must work with people who have routinely made derogatory comments about my family because we are a multi-racial family, led by a single mother, formed by adoption, involved in foster care or a variety of other ways we do not fit the norm. I do not stop being with friends who have anti-homosexual feelings while I maintain friendships with people who are gay. I do not allow people to make hateful or bigoted comments around me but I don't let those comments stop me from being friends with the person. I don't spend time with people who are unable to accept me or my family but I am willing to be friends with someone who agrees not to discuss their bigoted feelings around me or my family. My one rule that I enforce is that I do not tolerate intolerance around me or my family.
I cannot change other people's beliefs even when I believe they are wrong. I can teach my son to be tolerant of all people despite their beliefs. I can teach my son to love others and be friendly even if they are not friendly or loving towards us. I do teach my son to speak up when someone says something racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise morally wrong. I also show him how to be loving towards those people. We tolerate people but not intolerant acts or statements.
I believe that this is how Obama views his former pastor. He doesn't condone or believe the hateful things his former pastor said. He doesn't allow the man to make the comments around his family or him. He also is able to see past these weaknesses and faults to see the rest of the man. Obama is able to show love and acceptance to a person who doesn't believe as he does rather than continuing the hatred by excluding this person from his life.
I won't say who I am voting for. There are things I like about all of the candidates. There are things I don't like in all of them. I am continuing to study and listen to all of them while I decide who to vote for. I also know this. I plan to look at the beliefs and the actions of the candidates themselves and not at the people who make up their family and friends.