The Come-to-Jesus Moment This Country Can’t Miss

Hello friends,

My apologies for the absence around here.

The idea is to blog multiple times a week but when time gets away from me, I remind myself the days are being lived and I am satisfied with that this summer.

As you can imagine, it’s been a quiet one. Last weekend, we finally departed from routine and took a 2-hour drive to Anna Maria Island at the courteous invitation of a friend. When I was younger, I took life in Florida for granted but as an adult you gain a new appreciation for the fact that people choose to retire here. Florida may carry some well-deserved stereotypes but have you ever watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico?


I voted in the Florida state primary last week. And it was surprisingly difficult to find a voter guide for local elections. I thought I just didn’t know where to look so I called a BFF who happens to be a lawyer which I will use a shorthand to communicate she’s got some stuff figured out. Imagine my surprise when we were both flummoxed by the vacuum of information a Google search led us to. The main outlet following the election was pay-walled.

We resigned to polling a few members of the local public defender’s office and looking up the websites of the candidates running.

The same day I voted also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I thought it was strange we didn’t hear more about it from a cultural standpoint.

It’s the centennial anniversary! But somehow the brands will make sure you know when it’s National Donut Day. I digress.

The only dialogue I saw on the internet surrounding the 19th Amendment didn’t secure the right to vote for women of color.

The older I get, the more I realize voting is just not that important to a subset of Americans.

I will never forget a conversation I had with acquaintances just prior to the 2016 election where they informed me they weren’t going to vote because they didn’t want to participate in a farce since Hillary would win anyway.

That logic never really panned out.

Even still, we are nearing one of the most important elections we will experience in our lifetimes yet Roy and I will meet people completely ignorant to logic or empathy when it comes to politics. Instead we find people that are defensive, cynical, disenchanted, and occasionally others like us — cautiously hoping for the best with the disappointment of 2016 still fresh in mind.

Michelle Obama sat the country down for a serious talk during the 2020 Democratic National Convention last week. In case you missed it, I’ve linked the full video. I highly suggest listening to it and sitting with the words for a while, and even as an opportunity to meditate on what it means to be an American at such a time as this.

I’ve shared the words that stood out to me below.

Good evening, everyone. It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways. And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune into a political convention right now or to politics in general. Believe me, I get that. But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting.

I am one of a handful of people living today who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this: the job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass, and an ability to listen—and an abiding belief that each of the 330,000,000 lives in this country has meaning and worth.

A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job.

As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.

Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment. We reach out because, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It is not a hard concept to grasp. It’s what we teach our children.

And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.

They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.

They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation. A nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that’s not just disappointing; it’s downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.

And I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what’s going on in this country is just not right. This is not who we want to be.

So what do we do now? What’s our strategy?

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation. A nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that’s not just disappointing; it’s downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.

Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, “When others are going so low, does going high still really work?” My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences. And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.

So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.

And if we want to keep the possibility of progress alive in our time, if we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history. And we have got to do everything we can to elect my friend, Joe Biden, as the next president of the United States. Thank you all. God bless.

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Author: RJ Bohyn

My name is RJ, I'm a writer and consultant based in the South. If you're reading this, you've arrived at the corner of the internet I've cultivated to share life, reflections on faith, style, and just about everything in between with those generous enough to read.

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