Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Love You Even If...

“I love you.” Those special words are often the climax of a rom-com or the ones we desperately want to hear from a family member. I was (and still am) fortunate to hear it from both of my parents often, but my mom’s "I love you" is different than my dad’s.

To give you an idea of the kind of mother I have, here’s an example. Several years ago, while going through TSA at an airport, an agent pulled me aside and said, “Excuse me miss, are you Lil Kim?” I shook my head in horror until he clarified “I mean, are you Kimmie’s daughter? She told me you were coming to the airport, showed me your picture and told me that I should take care of you.” And that’s how I got a bottle of lotion onto a cross country flight in my carry-on bag. When my mother says “I love you” it’s a warm confirmation of what she’s already proven with emergency Western Union transfers, non-judgmental advice, a short stint at Waffle House so we could have a great Christmas, and yes… a TSA hookup.

With my dad, it’s a little more complicated. When my parents divorced, my dad pretty much dropped off the map, only to reemerge during holidays, summer vacations and special events. My mother would do the hard work of schlepping me to track practice, drama rehearsal, Upward Bound meetings, and my dad would show up for the graduation and say “I love you!” I know that he means it, but it means something different than when my mother says it.

Bob Goff, a great author/speaker wrote a book called “Love Does.” In short, Goff’s philosophy is that “Love doesn’t just think about it, love doesn’t just plan it, love does it.” My mom gets that. My dad’s more of a work in progress.

After the horrible shooting in Orlando where 49 people were killed at a gay club, I heard those words and over again from both sides of the political spectrum, “We love you Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

What does it mean when someone who has stood by your side, rallied for you, sacrificed for you, defended you (even when you didn’t deserve it) says I love you? It’s the icing on the cake, but in reality, you knew it already. It’s easy to accept.

But how about when the person saying “I love you” has also deeply hurt you, ignored you, dismissed you, or even unintentionally failed to consider you? What does it mean when someone says “I love you” and you know there’s an unspoken “but I can’t attend your wedding, because I don’t believe in that... I love you but I would rather you express your love or affection behind closed doors because it makes me uncomfortable… “

So this is the part where I should launch into an attack on anyone opposed to marriage equality, or anyone in favor of bathroom assignments that discriminate against the transgender community, and excoriate all the politicians who are saying “We love you Orlando” while refusing to vote on gun control, right?


I’ve been down that road before. I’ve crafted arguments that rail against conservatives believing that my pen will “surely show them.” I still believe there’s a place for passionate political opinions, even within my faith! I strongly believe Jesus is the prototype of a social justice activist. But if I’m rallying against folks for failing to show that “love does”, all while failing to embody love in my approach, doesn’t that me a hypocrite?

Probably one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn is: Just because you are right, doesn’t mean you are loving.”

Jesus doesn’t call us to “Win as many arguments as you can so that you can win souls for me.”
He says:
“In everything, treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Matthew 7:12
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
“Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me.” Matthew 25:40

Here’s the other thing about “winning” arguments…. It rarely converts anyone; more often than not, you just end up with an injured friendship, on someone’s “blocked” list, and now they’ve decided that not only do they disagree with you; they think you’re a jerk.

So today, I commit to the challenging version of “I love you” which isn’t “I love you but…” It is “I love you even if…”
I love you even if we disagree.
I love you even if I think giving more people guns is ridiculous.
I love you even if you don’t always call when you should.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold people accountable; it doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to engage in a spirited debate. It does mean you have to consider the goal. Are you trying to win? Is your approach loving? Have you considered that you can likely do a better job of swaying someone by the way you live YOUR life? Loving by doing isn’t just right; it’s effective! Most opponents to marriage equality aren’t softened by a long-winded Facebook comment. They get to know a cousin whose partner of 20 years provides a model of love.

With an election this year, I don’t know how successful I’ll be at this, “Love does” approach, but I’ll try. Will you join me?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I Choose Chipotle (I'm With Her)

Way back when, during the era of Bush II, I was a college student, hungry for cheap, filling food that didn't induce the deep feelings of shame and guilt I got from scarfing down McDonald's fries. A good friend recommended "this Mexican spot with really good burritos where you get to pick the toppings"... a selling point he knew would work for me as I am pickier than an 8 year old with a nostril full of boogers. And that was how I met Chipotle. Ah... the golden age of Chipotle. It was bright, inviting, and my palette was too immature and uncultured to know that I wasn't eating authentic Mexican food. "Barbacoa" sounded exotic and the price was almost too good for a student eking it out on a scholarship and part time waitressing job to believe. Plus... it tasted amazing. Before I knew it, I was following up late night study sessions with two burritos. Yes, I said it... two burritos. Like I said... this was the golden age. 

Taqueria Habanero - Washington, DC, United States. From clockwise:   Shrimp... 11a Chicken... 1p Beef Tongue... 3p Canitas w/pineapple... 6p Al pastor... 9p

Then I got older, a little more worldly, tried other things, and I realized... Chipotle is not as perfect as I initially thought. There are lots of other options - many that are much more authentic, with more exciting ingredients. I discovered new, revolutionary options like food trucks and Groupon and Chipotle got a backseat.

I still visited Chipotle when I needed something tried and true; I just didn't get the same high I used to get. 

And then, years after our first dalliance, Chipotle dropped the ball. It started out as a little trickle - a few restaurants were making people sick. And then it became a full blown outbreak and by the time it was over, hundreds of folks were affected. It was bad. Real bad. I avoided Chipotle long after the "all clear" was given. I just didn't trust Chipotle. 

Fast forward to 2016. My office hosted a Cinco de Mayo party, catered by... you guessed it Chipotle. It was hard to push the virus to the back of my mind, but I realized I had two (free) choices: Either the cup of noodles stash in the cafeteria or the free trays of warm tortillas, flavored chicken, and various salsas. Technically, I could have taken a third option and gone out and purchased food elsewhere, but the two major choices in front of me were Cup of Noodles or slightly untrustworthy, but steaming and familiar Chipotle. What should I do?

I chose Chipotle.

And that's why #ImWithHer.

In case the analogy hasn't hit you yet... 

The first time I really heard Hillary speak in person was in 2004 at the Women's Right March in Washington, DC. You may not believe this, but in 2004, 2004 YA'LL!, when Hillary stepped up to the podium, the crowds of women chanted "Hillary for President! Hilary for President!" By then, she'd been an advocate for progressive causes, she was a well-liked Senator, women's rights advocate, and had persevered in spite of her husband's horrific scandal in a way that even 20 year old me knew was admirable.

But by the time 07 rolled around, I had been introduced to other potential candidates, namely Senator Barack Obama. Sure, Hillary was a good choice, but Barack was a better choice. He did more than get the job done, he did it well, and with an engaging smile. Hillary became the fallback (or ahh the Secretary of State) -  just like Chipotle. And then she dropped the ball, a few times to be honest. She bungled through the Benghazi ordeal (although all things considered, she can't be blamed for someone else's terrorism), she used her personal email instead of her work email (I've done this one too), and along the way, she's said a few things that really just... weren't her best work (e.g. the super predator controversy). But let's keep it real. When all is said and done, you can still count on Hillary to get it done.

Hillary is not charismatic. Hillary is not warm. Hillary is not friendly. But Hillary is...

Experienced. A proven public servant. Smart. The diplomat we need. And she agrees with Senator Sanders on just about everything. I don't need to read you her resume; you know it. 

There's too much at stake for us to choose the Drumpf of Noodles over Hillary this go-round (or worse... throw a temper tantrum and vote for no one or a candidate whose math doesn't add up.)

For the sake of our country's future, we should have steak (I'm looking at you Elizabeth Warren), but if I can't afford that, I'll at least take the Chipotle steak bowl. 

And now I'm hungry. 

P.S. Sanders fanatics ruin my appetite. If you stand with Bernie on the issues, then you're with her too, whether you know it or not.