Preaching Without God.

I get really preachy on social media. I find myself second-guessing statuses on Facebook or tweets or even blog posts here all the time thinking, “Okay – this is too far – even for Reverend Zoot.” Yes – you heard me right – for every ONE preachy status or blog post or tweet about the importance of compassion and empathy, there are at least TWO that I didn’t share because I worried it was too much.

I really do struggle with this a lot. I have lessons I have learned in my life – some from experience and some from the wisdom and example of those around me – and I want to share those with the world. As much as I struggle with anxiety and depression, I love my life and I love the world and I firmly believe it’s compassion and empathy that keeps me from falling into a deep hole and never coming out. Sometimes it’s empathy towards people making me feel anxiety, but sometimes it’s compassion towards myself. Either way – there are forces I use to guide my perspective and my life and many moments are made easier by those perspectives; so I’m compelled to share them.

I’m also a writer deep in my blood and there are often current events and attitudes that won’t let me sleep at night until I put words to paper somewhere and clear the chaos from my mind. A perfect example was something that’s been haunting me in the days following the RNC. I was seeing a lot of my liberal or progressive friends giving conservatives ultimatums. “If you are voting for Trump, we can’t be friends.” Maybe not that clear or black & white, but the general point was that…time and time again. I can not understand any reason you would vote for that man so we should cease all connection. My feelings about these attitudes have been rattling around in my head and in my heart for days and finally – around 9pm last night – I got my sermon ready to share with any congregation who would listen.


But I’m trying to become one with that tendency. I’m still deleting blog posts (I have at least 4 million preachy blog posts in my draft folder) and tweets and FB statuses, but I’m trying to allow myself to do it once it awhile to soothe the compulsion I have to make the world better by helping everyone else learn the lessons I learned through blood and sweat and tears. I am not like my daughter, I was not born with this level of compassion and empathy. It took being an asshole – from like age 12 to age 22 – to really learn the importance of the two traits. And for every year that ticks by that I try my best to keep my grasp on that perspective, I feel the need to spend time sharing that outlook with others who may not see the world the same way I do.

But here’s the kicker: It is REALLY hard to be preachy without God.

There are so many times I want to use God in my sermons. Not because I believe it, but because it makes things so much easier. “Why should we refuse to sever ties with Trump supporters?” “Because God told us, through his son, to love one another.” Or maybe, “Because we are all created by God and only made evil by sin so we must love each other like we love God.” Or even take it to a more Eastern philosophy of God, “God is part of everything. He is part of the prostitute on the corner, the sociopath with the gun, and the children in the school yard. We have to see that in order to give the world the love it needs.”

DO YOU SEE? So much easier than, “Humans are complex. I still want to love them.”

I also think about when I’m talking to the kids about good/bad behavior. Sometimes I feel like it would be so much easier to explain, “We don’t lie because it’s a sin.” Instead I have to give this lecture about trust and how important it is to have trust in a family and in friendships and how people won’t trust you if you lie and…do you see? SO TRICKY.

But I guess I’ll keep preaching because it is my penance for the actions of Zoot of yesteryear. I want to enlighten the 20-year old Zoots of the world. I would love it if my words could help teach love and compassion and empathy so that people don’t have to learn the way I did – by being such a self-righteous asshole you find yourself alone and miserable and questioning all of your life choices for the 10 years prior.

6 thoughts on “Preaching Without God.”

  1. I have trouble with this, because I’m convinced that if a person is going to vote for Trump, then they don’t actually care about women, minorities, LGBT people, etc. So I can’t be “friends” with Trump supporters online. My boyfriend is Latino and I feel like that would be disrespectful to him. Being able to vote for Trump is so privileged, because as white people, none of what Trump does will affect them. It makes me sick.

  2. I feel the same way. It’s not that I can’t be friends with someone because we have a difference of opinion, it’s just that certain beliefs (in MY opinion) make me very uncomfortable and wary of a person, and life is too short for me to be “friends” with people who don’t value me, even online. If you say you’re a Republican, I can try to understand where you’re coming from or what that party has to offer you that might make you feel they are worth supporting. But if you tell me you are seriously voting for Trump, you are telling me you are voting AGAINST people like me (and millions of other Americans). I CAN’T respect or understand that, and I don’t want to be around it. Maybe it doesn’t mean the person isn’t good deep down inside, and maybe they don’t really understand what they’re voting for, but it’s not my responsibility as a minority to hold people’s hands through their hatred. I think “be the bigger person” — not that that’s what you’re arguing, Kim, because I know that this post and your innate goodness and “preachiness” comes from a place of love — comes with the luxury of privilege.

  3. I hope you can both see this comment because it addresses both of your points.

    1) I believe a vote for Trump is a vote against all of the things I love, but I believe people are voting for Trump out of fear of Clinton and while it’s not an excuse, it’s a point of empathy because if I watched conservative news outlets all day I’d fear her too.

    2) I can’t change the minds of people who actually LIKE Trump’s rhetoric, but I hope by being compassionate towards his supporters will me me a voice of reason that those conservatives who don’t like him can turn to. If I blankly call them all out when some are torn between voting Republican and voting their conscience, then I’m not going to win anyone over. I hope my attitude will actually help people not-decided how to resolve their turmoil. I can’t change minds of misogynistic racists, no matter how blunt I am about my dislike of Trump, but if I use compassion I can at least help those people completely confused right now. They don’t like Trump but they’re Republicans – how do they rectify that? I fear the mean talk will push them away.

    3) I am also looking big picture. For people who are being scared into hating Hillary – if I’m reasonable – surely they’ll someday logically conclude she can’t be THAT terrible if I’m behind her. They know me. I’m kind. I’m educated. I’m compassionate. Why would I vote for someone terrible? And maybe they’ll give her a second look. Whereas if I make my vote solely about hating Trump, they’ll assume I still think she’s terrible. Does that make sense?

  4. Also – One more note. I know you said the last bit didn’t apply to me but I think I need to defend myself anyway. My whole point with this perspective is to sway people away from Trump. Just because I’m not doing it by separating myself from Trump supporters, doesn’t mean I’m any less determined to make sure we don’t have a Trump presidency. People who have the “luxury of privilege” are the ones voting third party or not voting, I’m voting, I’m voting for Hillary, and I’m using a method I think is more effective than others to make sure that happens. I’m not saying “Be the bigger person” in a sense of “Let them vote for Trump” – I’m saying “Be empathetic in hopes that your energy and voice reshapes their view from the anger and fear that Fox News promotes.”

    Does that make sense? I’m just really worried that your “luxury of privilege” comments is grouping me in with people who aren’t voting or who are voting third party. I’m doing everything in my power to prevent a Trump presidency and the mere thought of it gives me a panic attack.

  5. I’m SO glad you’re writing about this. I’m really struggling with knowing a few of my very close friends are voting for Trump. I see their fb likes and shares and it’s making me like and respect them less as friends. I can’t seem to get past this feeling that I’ve chosen my friendships unwisely if those they are willing to ignore how blatantly disgusting Trump is. I haven’t discussed this with any of them because I’m positive they feel the same way about me because they know I’m voting for Clinton and they despise her as much as I hate Trump. I also have family voting for Trump but you know that adage about you can’t pick your family. I can ignore them but I can’t ignore friends that I text/talk to regularly. I really need more real life (not just on the internet) friends who are liberals. This whole thing is awful. 😦

  6. No, I didn’t mean that you were being complacent! I think we just have different ways of handling things like this. Maybe I have less patience than you. I think it’s lovely that there are people like you with big hearts, but I don’t really know if empathy is going to change anyone’s mind. In a perfect world, of course logic would make people realize that if someone decent like you finds fault with Trump, maybe he’s not the best candidate. But then, if people were using logic, I really don’t see how they could vote for Trump in the first place. (Even if they absolutely loathed Hillary, there are other options, like you said [abstaining or voting third-party.]) I just can’t help being highly suspicious of someone who who would vote for Trump, and advocating empathy for people like that sounds a bit like advocating empathy for people who are talking about joining the Klan. (I mean, sure, I *could*, but why would I? As a minority, I don’t have the luxury of playing the game of Maybe This Person Doesn’t REALLY Hate Me. That’s the “luxury” I’m talking about.) Of course that’s an extreme example, but it’s really and truly the same kind of thinking. I just don’t have it in me to deal with that.

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