Open Narration

Open Narration

What should normally be another Saturday of college football has given way to the results and reactions of this crazy election week. Half the country is smiling. The other half, not so much. Debates are sure to ensue along with lawsuits and news coverage and people with signs and people with guns and, most importantly, narratives.

Lots and lots of conflicting narratives.

So in the spirit of football, I am going to punt my blog entry today because I cannot put into words what I am feeling any better than what Andy Stanley shared about narratives in his sermon from October of 2019. (For the record, Andy Stanley is a world-class communicator, and I am sure I will never be able to put anything into words better than he does.)

“Our internal narratives, it fuels our pride, it fuels our racism, it fuels our prejudice, it fuels our fear, and maybe worst of all it blinds us to our inter-dependency on others.

False narratives are difficult to overcome; they’re very, very, very difficult to overcome, and here’s why: Because our narratives are shaped by things that we have no control over. Our narratives are shaped by where we are in the world.” – Andy Stanley

“It blinds us to our inter-dependency on others.”

Whether you’re blue or red, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, SEC fan or Big 10 (pfft….the Big 10 is so overrated) … the fact of the matter is that now more than ever we cannot lose sight of our inter-dependency on others. Be it in our households, our places of work, our communities, or our country as a whole. We will never agree on all things, but we can agree that united is better than divided.

And by challenging the narratives we tell ourselves and examining the thoughts that shape our biases, we can inch closer to togetherness.

 

At the End of the Day

At the End of the Day

Can someone’s death be a good thing?

Can my mother’s death be a good thing?

It was early September and we were gathered around the dinner table at my brother’s house in Miami. My family – cousins, sister-in-law, brother, wife – had spent the previous forty-eight hours mourning the sudden and unexpected passing of my mother. And following a viewing and a Mass, it was time to do what Cubans do and reminisce on the days of old.

From my perspective, it was a glorious childhood. My maternal grandparents had five children. Each of them had two children. We were a clan of ten cousins and I was the penultimate, only four years older than the youngest. For the most part, we’d met every Friday night at my grandparents’ house. Games of tag gave way to movie nights and sleepovers, and even though we were mostly disparate, we were there for each other.

There were varying ages and personalities. The older cousins were trailblazers and made a lot of things possible for me. I learned so much from watching them and listening to them. When I look back at the failures in my life, I think I would’ve been better served had I chosen to listen a little more.

But that glorious childhood succumbed to the passage of time, college years, marriages, and, eventually, kids of our own. We all grew up and went on with our lives, and in many ways, there was never a sense of closure on that period of our lives. It just went away.

So there we were, gathered around the table, the tension as thick as mud. For me at least, anyway.

When I think about it now, I realize how silly it was. How silly it was for me to let years – over a decade – pass and watch what once was robust and loving relationships dangle in the proverbial wind. I didn’t care to call. I didn’t bother to text. Why? It’s almost too embarrassing to admit out loud, but the truth is a simple one:

Politics.

Millions of Americans will take to the polls on Tuesday and cast their vote for President of the United States. Millions of Americans have already done so with early voting periods and absentee ballets. We are privileged to live in a country where we have the opportunity to participate in democracy, and if you’re eligible to vote, I hope you exercise that right and make your voice heard.

And it’s okay to be passionate about your causes. It’s one of the things that makes us great as a country. The diversity of opinion, the resonance of debate, the emergence of new ideas; all these things reach deep into the foundation on which America was built. The problem emerges when we let these passions divide us. And that is exactly what I realized I had done with my family. I let my personal ideology cloud and come before the literal life-long relationships I shared with my cousins … as well as the relationship I shared with my brother.

As a Christ-follower, I see now how awful that is. It took time and reflection for me to get to this realization. It also took listening to Andy Stanley’s message series Talking Points for this to really hit home.


“Your political candidate will win or lose based on how the citizens of the United States vote on a single Tuesday in November. But the church wins or loses, the community wins or loses, in some way our nation wins or loses, based on how we treat each other and love each other and love our world every single day between now and then. Disagree politically, but love unconditionally, and pray for unity.” – Andy Stanley


I failed at doing this. Failed miserably.

But there we were, huddled in a room, united by blood and marriage, all coming together to clear the air, bury the hatchet, and reset among ourselves. And through tears and through the realization of my own selfish and arrogant thinking, I told them this, “Regardless of who you vote for on November 3, I will still love you.”

For me, at least, it was a powerful and emotional moment, one that capped off a very emotional forty-eight hours. And we all would not have been there if not for the sudden and unexpected passing of my mother.

Can someone’s death be a good thing? As my mother loved to say, “No hay mal que por bien no venga.”

Engage

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in an election year. I know, it’s tough to miss given the re-runs of Apprentice airing on Fox News and CNN. Still, this November 8, we’ll be going to the polls to elect our 45th president.

Election 2016 Illustration

Before that, however, each political party will nominate a candidate to be their representative on that presidential ballot, and primaries or caucuses will be held to help make that determination.

In my state of Florida, we hold a closed primary, meaning only voters who are registered as members of a political party prior to the primary date may participate in the nomination process for its candidates. In Florida,the deadline to register is February 16, which is only 31 days away.

So if you haven’t already, of if you are – like I used to be – registered as an Independent, and you want to take part in the primary election, be sure to complete the registration form and return it to your County Supervisor of Elections (the address can be found on the second page):

[ Florida Voter Registration form (PDF) ]

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation remember Captain Picard’s quip at the end of nearly every showing as he instructed his crew to proceed to their next destination. “Engage,” he’d say. That is exactly what we need to do as the beneficiaries of our democracy. Engage. We must educate ourselves, discuss the topics at the center of the campaigns, listen, learn, and, most importantly, engage.

Engage

For more information on voting in Florida, click here to visit the State of Florida Voter Information website.
To find out more information about registering to vote in your state, click here to visit the Election Assistance Commission website.  

My Contribution To PolicyMic

I was honored to have been asked to contribute to PolicyMic, a site devoted to, “amplifying excellent unheard voices from across the political spectrum.” Being in Florida, I was asked to provide a submission about the possibility of Senator Marco Rubio being selected as the Vice Presidential candidate for the GOP.

Click on the link below to read my piece on PolicyMic.

Marco Rubio VP Pick Would Put Romney Over the Top