Reflecting on this Political Moment for our Nation and Myself – Calvin Floyd

As someone who was beginning to come of age four years ago, this year and this election in particular allow for an interesting time to reflect, both on myself and my country. Four years ago, in the fall of my junior year of high school, I was beginning to develop my first political ideologies and understanding of the world just as Donald Trump was becoming president. This was a fraught time to come of age—a time of division, polarization and divisiveness. At the same time that I was learning more about who I was and what I believed in, much of the social fabric of our nation was being torn down the middle.

The question of religion and its role in our democracy was at the center of these divisions. I was growing in my personal faith journey and forming a relationship with God. I saw how many of these national issues seemed to group the religious communities I considered myself a part of on one side of these debates and the political spectrum in general—almost always the side I wasn’t on. This made it harder for me to feel a deep connection to my faith community and, at times, with God.

I have grown up in the era of Donald Trump, but more importantly, the era of polarization in America. Sometimes, this division was described as the Evangelical right on one side, and the “woke” left on the other side. My Christian values taught me to fight for justice, love my neighbor, and fight for the oppressed. Because of this, I began to believe in causes on the left yet I felt like everyone around me assumed that, because of my religious beliefs, I must have been the enemy, unwilling to fight for social justice. In a country with a myriad of beautiful religions and traditions and, unfortunately, just as many opinions about each of them and what they imply, it can feel hard to be grounded in one’s beliefs and faith—and that’s coming from someone whose religious community has controlled the dominant narrative in this nation since its founding.

2020 is teaching me, and this country, a lot about who we are. In many ways, I see 2020 as a climax of undercurrents that have been at work for many years, brought to the forefront in a year of unrest and uncertainty. We’re facing a global pandemic, a nationwide racial reckoning, a mounting climate crisis, and a presidential transition. 2020 is teaching me that faith and community are more important now than ever: we must come together in shared community, with a faith in each other and whatever it is we may believe in; because when we are together, respecting one other and our beliefs, we are unstoppable, as demonstrated by democracy and activism in this election. This time of reflection has allowed me to understand that if I am a Christian who disagrees with the hatred and polarization sometimes attributed to its followers, I don’t need to explain myself because I know that isn’t what it means to be a Christian. Faith is too important to let go of because of other peoples’ judgements. I’ve learned that, in this moment, it is important to be true to ourselves and our beliefs and to accept others on that basis. 2020 has also taught me that there is so much potential for love and community in this nation, and it starts with having faith, respecting one another’s beliefs, and not being afraid to use our voice.

Have you experienced a time in which you struggled to feel a deep connection to your religious beliefs because of how you feared others would view you? How has this year helped you grow in your political, or even religious beliefs?

5 thoughts on “Reflecting on this Political Moment for our Nation and Myself – Calvin Floyd”

  1. I took a religious studies course about the origins of Evangelicalism in America this semester and it helped me understand both parties much better than I had before I took the course. Before this year, I tended to privilege my political views over my religious views. Now, I feel that it is more complicated. I understand that the political and the religious can be in conflict in a way that makes reconciliation impossible. For instance, my pro-choice political views come into conflict with my Catholic faith based on doctrine. To be brutally honest, I have not parsed out these tensions. I think that a conversation will be had soon about how to approach this area, but I will not know the answer until dialogue happens between my political views and my religious views. Another instance came to light at the last interfaith meeting: the Israeli/Palestine conflict. I was raised a Zionist. Yet, listening to Yaseen talk affected me. I empathized with both sides, and I did not come to a firm opinion. Aitan’s emotional response was also deeply impactful for me. I have relatives who have also suffered and died from anti-semitism, so I do not take the term lightly. Before my eyes, I watched as a rigid view I held was fragmented into instances and experiences I had not considered. Lately, I have been thinking like a kaleidoscope.

  2. Hi Calvin! I just wanted to say that I profoundly understand the religious and moral struggles you went through during the election year and subsequent political events, I felt the same way. I completely agree with your point that rather than prove I’m not one of “those” Christians, if I’m strong in my faith and know that my duty is to defend the poor and oppressed, I can translate my frustration into beneficial activism. That is a way I can stay true to my beliefs in these polarized times. Building religious community with those who share your moral and ethical intentions is crucial in not only to organize and resist oppressive systems, but also to support one another when faced with exhaustion or difficulty.

  3. Hi Calvin! I thought your post was very interesting! I had a different experience than you growing up. I believed that based on my faith and its values that I would fight for social justice, call out wrong when I saw it and commit to creating actionable, positive change that would benefit my community. Normally, my religious views were not questioned, and I didn’t need to prove that I was “woke” based off of my religious beliefs. I think in part, this stemmed from the fact that I was a woman of color so people automatically assumed what my political beliefs and ideals would be. Furthermore, not many people know enough about my religion and the faith I practice (Sikhi) to determine if my faith would cause me to be on one side of the political spectrum or the other. As a result, I have never had to justify my political beliefs as they relate to my religion. However, members of the Sikh community itself may have a pre-determined view about what my political beliefs may be based on the history of the religion and what it stands for. There are definitely certain aspects of my religion that may not necessarily line up with my political views, and I have been avoiding working out solutions to this but at some point, just like Ethan, I will need to have this difficult conversation. However, it’s clear to me that my political view and my view of the world is shaped by religion and both are deeply intertwined with each other – that’s why it is so important to have inter-faith dialogue to understand one another. My faith is an enormous part of who I am today, and it has greatly influenced the way I think about the happenings of the world including politics. Staying true to my faith during this especially polarizing time when the country is so divided seems more important than ever – I find myself wanting to create stronger relationships and finding community. Great post Calvin!

  4. Hi Calvin! I just wanted to say that I profoundly understand the religious and moral struggles you went through during the election year and subsequent political events, I felt the same way. I completely agree with your point that rather than prove I’m not one of “those” Christians, if I’m strong in my faith and know that my duty is to defend the poor and oppressed, I can translate my frustration into beneficial activism. That is a way I can stay true to my beliefs in these polarized times. Building religious community with those who share your moral and ethical intentions is crucial in not only to organize and resist oppressive systems, but also to support one another when faced with exhaustion or difficulty.

  5. Hi Calvin! Thank you for your post! I love when you discussed how your Christian values taught you to fight for justice, love thy neighbor, and fight for the oppressed. In Islam, we are taught the same thing! Although these past several years have been difficult as a Muslim, the country became more polarized. Most people began to realize that staying silent is complicity. As people became more vocal, more change came about. If anything, I’ve grown and become stronger in my beliefs. It is extremely important to me as a Muslim to stay on the right side of history and speak out against all evils and wrongdoings. I’ve been called out for my beliefs before because it can sometimes make people uncomfortable, but as you said, faith is too important to let go.

    Thank you again for your post Calvin!

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