This is an open letter to my family before the 2020 US Presidential Election:
It may be difficult to hear what I have to say. I am sorry if you feel polarized by this letter. My hope is that our relationship can be part of a larger healing that is desperately needed in our country.
A song that profoundly influenced my childhood was They’ll Know We Are Christians (By Our Love). Every summer, our family reunion-camping trip began with a Catholic mass in a large field. I remember belting out this song with pride and gusto, and the powerful connection I felt with my aunts, uncles and cousins in our large family. This song reaffirmed my role as a Christian in my child’s mind and heart, year after year.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.
Our family taught Christian values through four decades of weeklong camping trips. Our family demonstrated again and again that everyone deserved a seat at the picnic table, with 2-year-olds in high chairs just as welcome as 92-year-olds in wheel chairs; with visitors just as welcome as family. My friends, and later my dates and mates were always treated kindly and without judgement. Our family showed compassion and patience to people young and old who had special needs, accepting those who might be different. Our family took environmental stewardship seriously to protect God’s divine creation.
These consistent messages shaped my life, and inspired my choices from grade school into adulthood. Today I reflect on this song, in the context of members of our family considering Donald Trump for a 2nd term as President of the United States. He stands in direct opposition with the core family values you have shown me for over 45 years.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side;
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.
You have shown me by your example how you believe all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Countless people in this country struggle with basic needs. Many people are suffering because of where they were born, who they were born to, or who they inherently are. I carry the collective weight of these stories in my heart; too many examples to fit in this letter.
I ask for all of you in my immediate family, in my extended family and in my husband’s family, to please consider voting for Joe Biden for President in this election.
Looking at decades of our interactions, our core family values are most in alignment with Biden and with Democratic party candidates. Please vote for them, to acknowledge the strength of diversity and inclusion that made our country a beacon of hope for our ancestors who fled other countries. We enjoy freedom today in this beautiful place that welcomes all people, as it welcomed our ancestors. I hope you agree that our country could use equity and unity over divisiveness. I am asking you to show compassion and empathy by making room at the (picnic) table for everyone. Joe Biden exemplifies working together in ways that I learned from you with leadership in ways that I strive to emulate.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
With the same intention of unity and love I had as an 8-year-old singing with all of you in the big field at camp, I will conclude by referring to Matthew 25:40. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me.”
Your Daughter, Your Niece or Your Cousin,