Just How She Wanted It // The Highly Politicized Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Why I Won’t Stay Silent

CLARIFICATIONS

Before I step in these muddy waters, I want to be clear that, even as a pro-lifer, I am not particularly excited about the opportunity to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Not only was her death literally minutes ago, I think it’s short-sighted to assume that hastily filling her seat will rescue or significantly advance the anti-abortion movement. The situation is complex and, as we know from past appointments, there are no guarantees. So this post is NEITHER an endorsement or a condemnation of the Republican Party’s attempt to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice before November.

This post is also NOT an endorsement of either Trump or Biden for president because neither of them would be my choice for president. I know this will make many of you (on both sides) angry, but it is what it is.

This post IS a clarification of why I have chosen to openly discuss the not-so-beautiful part of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy so shortly after her death.

(My opinion about whether or not now is the right time to appoint is largely irrelevant and many of you may just want to skip this part, but for those of you who would really like to know here it is: I acknowledge that, according to the constitution, it is within the President’s and Senate’s power to appoint and confirm. While I am moved by Ginsburg’s final wishes, I don’t see how, constitutionally, those wishes can be binding in any way. Ultimately, it’s the President’s and Senate’s call, no matter how we feel about it. Personally, while I 100% want to see a pro-life judge on the bench so we can save the babies and the mamas, I am concerned that trying to fill the seat now is so divisive that it may do more harm than good in the long run. As for the “hypocrisy” accusation dominating the internet, I think it’s important to point out that hypocrisy abounds on all sides, and even Ginsburg herself had a different opinion when Obama was in office.)

SHE WANTED IT THIS WAY

Typically, I would agree that it’s too soon after Ginsburg’s death to get political about her record, to talk about her replacement, and so on. BUT (and this is a big but) Ginsburg herself chose to politicize her life and death, as clearly evidenced by her last wish, apparently dictated to a family member. That final act reinforces what we already knew: Ginsburg’s work was her life mission; she was nothing if not passionate about and fiercely dedicated to that mission, even to the very end.

Let’s also remember a some other things that brought us to where we are today: Ginsburg chose not to step down during Obama’s presidency because she wanted a woman president, specifically Hilary Clinton, to choose her replacement. When Hillary lost, Ginsburg decided to try to hold out for Biden. (I kinda love this about her, by the way.) But alas, that didn’t work out either. So now, just weeks before a highly-charged, practically pre-contested election, America finds itself down a Supreme Court Justice. Suddenly, Bush Gore 2000 is starting to look as benign as an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.

As for Ginsburg’s family, Ginsburg clearly made no effort to shield them from the political drama, as she chose to dictate to them a dying wish about her replacement. The family then chose to step into the fray by publicizing said dying wish.

So no, I will not be silenced by those who argue that Ginsburg or her family deserve a less political response. We’re all adults here. We all know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg dedicated her life to political activism through the law. Even in her death she is still rocking our world. Ginsburg’s life and now her death are politicized because that’s exactly the way she wanted it to be.

Phew! And I’m not even to the part that really annoys people!

THE PART THAT REALLY ANNOYS PEOPLE

Please note, I make the following comments as a pro-life/anti-abortion feminist who deeply respects Ginsburg and also deeply disagrees with her on the issue of abortion.

As a woman who has had an abortion and lives with that choice every day, I am acutely aware of the fact that the responsibility of my baby’s death is ultimately mine. At the same time, I cannot ignore the effect our pro-abortion culture had on me. I was sold a lie – by our government, our leaders, the media, my teachers, my community, doctors, nurses and clinics – that abortion is a right, a symbol of freedom and strength; that abortion is an easy solution; that it would fix my problems; that my life would return to normal; that the fetus isn’t a baby and no one would be hurt.

Nobody – not the clinics, not the doctors, not the nurses, nobody – informed this 15 year old girl that nothing, not even abortion, would turn back time, make me “unpregnant”, make me “not a mother”; that my life would never go back to “normal”; or that I would bear the invisible scars of abortion for the rest of my life.

I thought I was having a procedure when I was actually killing my baby. I thought my problems would be over soon, when I actually fell headlong into PTSD. That is the just tiniest fraction of my story. I bought the lie. And the price was steep. Steeper than most can imagine.

Now, if you could pause for a moment…
take off your political armor…
And put on your empathy sweater…
(yes, your empathy sweater)

I think, if you genuinely try, you could understand how it might be difficult for me (and the millions of others like me) to watch Ginsburg be hailed as a hero of women and human rights without any acknowledgement of her radical stance on abortion.

Whether we like it or not, Ginsburg is complicit in the perpetuation of a lie, and the abortion industry it fuels, which have together led to the destruction of millions of babies (half of whom are female) as well as the suffering of countless women (and men).

Please remember that very few women are running into abortion clinics gleefully “choosing” to murder their children. Rather they are led there by people in positions of power who’ve convinced them that abortion is something other than what it really is. Because of the gravity of her position, Ginsburg is, at the very least, responsible for perpetuating this lie.

ABORTION IS ANTI-FEMINIST

Perhaps the biggest misconception about abortion is that it is somehow synonymous with feminism. Abortion is perhaps the least feminist thing about America’s feminist movement. First and foremost, approximately half of the millions of babies aborted each year in America are female. However, in some countries that allow sex selective abortion, preborn female babies are far more likely to be aborted than male babies. For this reason alone, abortion is inherently anti-female and therefore, anti-feminist.

As for the argument that abortion liberates women from oppression, consider just this one example of the contrary (we simply don’t have time for all of them): Abortion clinics and the pro-abortion lobby adamantly oppose showing women an ultrasound of her baby because, they say, it puts an undue burden on women. The truth puts an undue burden on women? Keeping women from the truth under the guise of protection is the height of manipulation, control, and dominance. There is nothing genuinely feminist about that. (Not surprisingly, most women, when they see an ultrasound of their developing baby, choose not to abort.)

And now, for the sake of time I will let this quote by Liz Hoskings sum up why abortion is indeed anti-feminist: “…mainstream feminism has sold out to what is a masculine worldview. Instead of fighting for equality on their own terms, women have been forced into adapting themselves to a wombless, male world.”


FINAL WORDS

I am grateful for Ruth Bader Ginsburg the person, and I am grateful to her for the important advances she made for the equal rights of (already born) women. While I would love to ignore all the drama and just reflect quietly on Gingsburg’s life, I cannot. Her role as a Supreme Court Justice and her own choices surrounding her tenure have contributed to the current intensity surrounding her death, and therefore demand our attention.

As a pro-life/anti-abortion feminist, I will not ignore the fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg failed to protect the rights of the most vulnerable women in our nation – the unborn. Nor can I deny that she was complicit in perpetuating a lie, and an industry, that leads women into bondage under the guise of freedom and empowerment.

So, yes, I am unapologetically questioning Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s record of protecting and advocating for “all” women. Yes, I am doing it days after her passing. That may shock you or bother you. But you know who I’m pretty sure is neither shocked nor bothered? Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Rest in peace, Ruth. I sure hope to meet you one day and talk together in the light God’s perfect love. I imagine there’s a few surprises in store for all of us.

© Nichole Q. Perreault

YES, I AM PRO-LIFE. NO, THAT’S NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF TRUMP.

It’s almost as if I’m in competition with myself to write posts that satisfy as few people as possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And away we go…

I am pro-life. More than that, I am anti-abortion. Passionately anti-abortion.

And I am not voting for Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him in 2016 and I don’t plan to vote for him in 2020.

I’m not going to bore you with an elaborate explanation of my reasoning. It’s a personal choice. And it’s painful. There’s nothing I want more than to abolish abortion and I know that a Democrat president will quickly undo standing executive orders that protect the unborn, and will nominate pr-abortion judges.

Which is why I am not voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris either.

To my pro-life and pro-Trump friends:
Perhaps you’re concerned that I am aiding in the election Biden/Harris. I understand. And I am sorry. I hate it. But I cannot vote for a man that I can’t defend and I cannot defend Trump. I can defend many of his administration’s policies, but I cannot defend the careless, callous, irresponsible, unprofessional way he speaks to and about women, racial and ethnic minorities, the under-resourced, or basically anyone he views as “other”. This is about far more than inelegant speech. I was, and still am, a fan of George W. Bush. I found his inelegant speech endearing and humanizing. I find the things Trump says far more divisive and dangerous. And frankly, I am just too damn tired to defend the hot communications disaster that is Donald Trump.

(I confess, this would probably be a more difficult decision if I lived in a battleground state. Here in the Democrat fortress of Connecticut, my vote for president won’t change who gets the small handful of Connecticut’s electoral votes. And so my decision stands.)

To my pro-Biden/Harris friends:
You may think that, comparatively at least, Biden and Harris are the better choice. I understand. Given the circumstances, I get it. Voting is a personal decision and you have to sleep at night, too. All I ask of you is this: When you fill in that bubble or mail that ballot or pull that lever (Does anyone use levers anymore? I miss them. I felt like the Wizard of Oz. Damn you hanging chads!)…anyway…

When you cast your vote, please do so with the full knowledge that you are endorsing the wholesale murder of millions of unborn children every year, and perpetuating a lie – one that promises freedom but instead physically, emotionally, and spiritually ravages women, families, communities and the world.

I am not too proud to admit that I hope your vote for Biden/Harris is as painful for you as giving up my vote is for me. If you believe they are the better choice, at least enter into it honestly. At least admit the cost. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it is worth it. That is the chance you’re taking.

And truly, TRULY, I do not judge you for it. How can I if my non-vote helps put Biden/Harris in office?

But we must, all of us, face the cost of our CHOICES honestly if we are to ever understand what it is we’re fighting for. If we really want to make a difference in this world, we must take responsibility for our actions, big and small, individual and collective.

No, I am not saying you can’t vote for Democrats or Republicans, but damn it, why can’t we demand more from them?!

If you’re a pro-life Democrat, demand better from your leaders. Stop giving them a pass!

If you’re an anti-racist Republican, demand better from your leaders. Stop giving them a pass!

Otherwise, what incentive will they ever have to change?

(but also, I really do l love you)

©️ Nichole Q. Perreault

Before We Speak

This started out as one thing and became another. I anticipate follow up posts but I never really know what God has planned for my writing. 

I have spent the last several decades as part of America’s evangelical Christian subculture. It’s nice here. The people are nice. The message is nice. The coffee is nice. We keep it neat and tidy – from the clothes we deem acceptable, to the music we say we listen to, to the shows we admit we watch, to the language we use to whitewash our sin. Stop by and if you don’t look too closely you’ll see that everything is really, really nice.

It’s like nice is our unspoken brand. We mean well. We think if we make everything nice we’ll be able to convince everyone that Jesus is nice and if we convince everyone that Jesus is nice, then maybe they’ll choose to follow Jesus. And we really, truly do want everyone to know Jesus like we know Jesus.

But Jesus was more than nice. Jesus was Real. Jesus was kind and compassionate and brave but he was also sad and angry and afraid. He was quiet and he was loud. He fasted and he feasted. He laughed and he wept. He was the Prince of Peace and he flipped tables.

People, can we please start being more than just “nice”? Can we be Real, too?

I know a lot of you are going to say YES! but have you considered what it means to be really Real? I don’t just mean honest about our feelings Real. I mean:

Continue reading

What It’s Like to be a White, Conservative, Christian Woman on Facebook These Days

FEELING A LITTLE RIDICULOUS 

On Friday, January 20, I shared a photo of me and two friends at the spa. The overnight was a birthday gift to my friend from her husband and we were ridiculously spoiled. Seriously. While I was receiving my Swedish massage, and, in particular, when the massage therapist wrapped my feet in warm towels, I kept repeating over and over in my mind, this is so good, it’s ridiculous. And trust me when I say, visions of starving children, women marching on Washington and homeless people huddled around fires paraded through my mind more than once.

Before posting the photo of us, my friends and I joked about the caption and landed on this: “Some women march on Washington. We march to the spa. #merica”

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It was ironic. And silly. And yes, ridiculous. But that was the point.

At first glance, some may have just seen three privileged white women. And I suppose we are. But that’s not the whole story. Is it ever?

A BRIEF HISTORY

In rural Connecticut 1973, I was born the daughter of white teenagers. One set of grandparents were Polish immigrants, coal miners and tobacco farmers. The other set farmers and blue collar workers. My parents divorced when I was two and my dad left us. My mother remarried and they had a son, but when I was six, my stepfather became ill. To support our family, my mom worked a full-time insurance job and waitressed at night. We moved 21 times before I was twelve, the same year my stepfather died, at which point my mother bought a house. Even though we moved a lot, I attended the same school district in Simsbury, Connecticut for 12 years. Then, in the midst of a rebellious adolescence, I became a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I was 18, I met a white man at a local, beach volleyball pit (sand, no beach). He had lived his entire life in Simsbury, had just graduated junior college and was painting houses for a living. His parents were married as were his grandparents; they were financial professionals, doctors and nurses. We had our first daughter together when I was 19 and he was 23. We married that same year and had a second daughter seven years later. Over the years, my husband has worked his way up through the aerospace division of a local company and I have focused primarily on being a mom while working as a nursery school director, bookkeeper and now, a church Communications Director. We own a 1500 square foot cape and I drive a used car, enabling us to pay for private high school, college tuition and travel more than we once did. (Though my husband’s frequent flyer points come in handy!) We are also active in our church and community and do what we can with our time and money to make the world a better place. Could we do more? Definitely.

ABOUT MY PRIVILEGE AND WHO I AM TODAY

Do you recognize privilege in that story? I do. I’m white in a country that has a history of oppressing people of other races and ethnicities. I had a parent who provided for me and grandparents who helped when they could. I had the opportunity to attend one of the nation’s top public school systems. I married a white man who had two parents, grew up in the same education system and whose parents paid for him to go to college. Our families continue to live nearby and have always been supportive.

I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have had, especially because most of those are not privileges I chose. I did not choose my skin color, my parents, my school system or my husband’s background.

Yet there are other, less glamorous things I didn’t choose, as well. I know what it’s like to grow up poor in a wealthy town. To have a fourth-grade teacher tell my best friend, in front of the class, that I am “no good” and not to hang around me, simply because I live in the wrong part of town with an unconventional family. To be home with a sick parent and baby brother while the other parent works nights. To share a two-bedroom apartment with my mom, brother and grandparents. To juggle school and an afterschool job with whatever extracurriculars I can manage. To be made fun of for being a stupid, clumsy “Polack”.

My friends from the photo have similar stories. They were not rich and their lives were not easy. But, yes; they, like me, were born with some privileges. They, like me, do not know what it is to grow up oppressed. But they, like me, do not take that for granted. They are kind, compassionate, loving women who are committed to their families, work harder than half the people I know and give of their time, talents and money to make the world a better place.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that these two women and I are a united voice for the equality of women in the Christian church and culture. We are also, in various ways, actively engaged in ministries such as racial reconciliation, investing in under-resourced communities, the fight against human trafficking in Connecticut and bettering the lives of those in Greater Hartford and around the world.

AFRAID

How I hate to think that my post of the three of us offended and perhaps even hurt people we care about. I generally avoid political discourse on social media for that very reason – because I have friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances on far ends of the political spectrum and I love them all. I never want our political differences to come between us. Ever.

But, if I’m being totally honest, as a Christian woman who leans conservative but also does not fit in the classic conservative box, I feel marginalized when it comes to having a voice that is respected in the current atmosphere, especially on social media. I am not suggesting that my plight is the same as that of a black woman or a gay teenager or a Muslim immigrant. I simply want you to know that I do feel a bit bullied into silence; and most of that pressure comes from other women. I am truly afraid to say what I believe for fear of being misunderstood, judged, lashed out against and so on. But most of all, I am afraid of losing my friends.

In this era of click-bait headlines, soundbites and comedy show newsgathering, who has time to hear my story of how I was adamantly pro-choice until I experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual ravages of abortion firsthand? Who wants to sit down over a cup of tea and hear me tell of my first and limited childhood experiences with people of another race, and how that unknowingly shaped my relationships with black people for decades thereafter? Who wants to hear me explain why I believe that individuals, churches and other shared-value organizations can better meet people’s needs than the government ever will? That I would love to be able to give more of my time and income to building relationships with people and investing in their lives?

Can you be curious or interested or respectful, without shutting me out or scrolling away?

HEARING IS SOMETHING WE DO

The question is the same for me as it is for you. Are we willing to hear one another? Biblically, the word “hear” is often used as an active verb that results in the hearer doing something in response to what he or she heard. On a good day, we may listen to the words we say, but how often do we really hear?

Actually, have you ever noticed that the word “hear” is literally part of the word “heart”? To truly know you, to know your very heart, I must do more than listen, I must hear.

So if we were to try to hear one another today, to know one another’s hearts, what would be the “doing” part? I’m no expert, but after all this blah blah-ing I thought I’d offer up a suggestion that begins and ends with love.

  1. Love: Love is a choice and a verb. So, first, choose to love the person despite your differences, by being kind, compassionate, truthful, respectful, and gracious.
  2. Let Go: Set aside prejudice, judgment and all defensive weapons. (I’m thinking figurative weapons but setting down literal weapons is probably a good idea, too.)
  3. Listen: Pay attention to what the person is truly saying, not what you think they are saying.
  4. Look: Try to see things from their perspective. Ask yourself, what does life or this issue look like to them? How does this differ from my experience?
  5. Learn: Seek and embrace new insights and understanding from their knowledge and experience. There is always something to learn.
  6. Love: Continue to actively love the person regardless of your differences. Then consider (and ask God) how what you learned can help you better love those around you.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to hear what’s truly on the hearts of those women who didn’t feel represented at the march? What about those who felt so compelled to go that they gave up time, energy and money to travel across the country to march in the freezing cold? Imagine if we made an effort to understand the neighbor who voted for Trump, or the sister who voted for Clinton or the co-worker who voted for a third-party candidate.

Or this lady, who voted for Ron Swanson.

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BEGIN AND END WITH LOVE

I know I’m beginning to sound a bit like a Beatles song or a Coke commercial, so I will wrap up with this: in my experience, I have found that most of us, at our core, want the same things.  We love our families, our friends and neighbors and we want them to experience all the best that life offers. We love our country and this world. We are seeking what is good and right and best for our future and the future of those who come after us. We may not always agree on how to get there, but our hearts all long for the same things – truth, goodness, beauty and love.

This very universe we inhabit began with love and someday, will end with love. And all the acts of truth, goodness and beauty that have colored in this vast, dark, mysterious expanse of time and space, will live on like gems refined in the fire of a thousand suns. So let us run after these things together. Truth. Goodness. Beauty. And may we always begin and end with love. ~NP

What do you think? What did I miss? Do you have anything to add? Or changes you can recommend? Because I am here and I want to hear you.

© Nichole Q Perreault

 

 

 

Living History | My Political News Addiction is Killing Me

This post was written in response to the WordPress.com Weekly Writing Challenge.

Well, at least it’s killing my joy.

Photo by  DarrenHester

Photo by DarrenHester

I guess I’ve kind of known this for a while but it took a 40 day fast to expose the damage. As a junkie – political news junkie, just to clarify – I needed time away from the drugs (i.e., political news websites and cable news) to remember what life was like without them.

When our church observed a time of fasting and prayer to coincide with the Impact Connecticut 40 Days of Worship, I felt God prompting me to give up political news. I was so relieved – He didn’t say chocolate or television or baseball! Just political news. I actually wondered if I heard Him correctly, but time and again I heard the same answer: give up political news.

So with Syria in crisis and the budget battle looming, I logged off of my favorite poli-news sites, cold turkey. However, after a few days, I realized that political news is everywhere: on local television, on cable television, in magazines, on the radio, on the web, Facebook and Twitter. I can’t even turn on the Disney channel without Michelle Obama lecturing me about exercise. (If I wanted to be exercising, would I be watching Disney channel?) Maybe that’s not exactly political news, but I can’t see her or hear her without thinking about politics so she was off limits. Period.

Ultimately, I found that to keep my fast, I needed to avoid news and politics in every shape and form. So for most of September and half of October, that’s exactly what I did. Now I can spot (and scroll past) a political meme on Facebook without reading a single word of the post!

One night while channel surfing, I stumbled upon a tease for the nightly news: “Will the government reach a deal before midnight to avoid shutdown? Find out at 11.” My jaw almost hit the floor. What?! Shutdown?! Tonight?! That’s how out of touch I was.

Except for that one brief moment of shock and curiosity, I felt only relief – I didn’t have to go there. Didn’t have to listen to all the spin and arguments and back-biting. Didn’t have to let their mess ruin my day. And why should I? After all, in 40 days not much has changed. The Middle East is still a flipping mess. U.S. immigration will continue to be a disaster for the unforeseeable future. And politicians in Congress and the White House continue to fight over how to spend (or not spend) our money.

Seems that life goes on whether Nichole is getting all hot and bothered or not.

How liberating it is to know that the world still spins when we are sleeping – or watching I Love Lucy reruns instead of the morning news.

A little perspective is always good. But God used this fast to do so much more than give me perspective.

Years of watching and listening to the vitriol, contention, angst and even well-intentioned debate that permeates our news cycles, had invaded my heart like a bitter poison. As the fast wore on, I felt the poison seeping out of me, washing away. It was like an acrimony detox without the withdrawals. I relaxed. I relinquished my defensive position and felt the heavy armor melting away.

As my heart began to soften, I realized that my addiction, as addictions generally do, increased my misery rather than alleviated it; and the steady diet of hostility had made me…well…pissy. And pissy people don’t listen well. They don’t take in new information well. And even if they’re right, pissy people aren’t very gracious.

But God is. Gracious, I mean. Always. And He convicted me in the gentlest of ways. In love, He showed me myself. His mercy brought me to genuine tears of sorrow. Sorrow for the bad attitude I had been harboring and most of all, sorrow for the way I had allowed that attitude to keep me from loving others well.

Sure, I have plenty of family and friends with whom I differ politically and I love them. Always, always, I have known that we can agree to disagree, but still, somehow, there was a small part of my heart that I wouldn’t give to them…or let them enter. I was on guard.

Why? Because I hate being misunderstood. More than almost anything else in the world, I hate being misunderstood. Which means that if you think I’m a bigot or a woman-hater or a Bible thumper or a racist, I will be overcome with an almost irrepressible urge to defend, explain and validate myself. Sure, in part, that’s because I’m prideful and want your approval, but at the deepest level, I want to be understood because I want to be known.

Isn’t that what we all desire…to be known…to be truly, completely and thoroughly known?

But if I’m so busy trying to make sure you understand me, how will I ever really get to know you?

So I am laying down my idol of being understood by others. After all, God is the only One who truly knows us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. To search for understanding in anyone else is idolatry, plain and simple.

It’s not so much that God has changed my values or my principles or my opinion of how government and society should operate. I can’t even say I plan to vote differently. But He has changed my heart as only He can, because He knows me. He knows when I sit and when I rise, He perceives my thoughts from afar, He discerns my going out and my lying down, He is familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue He knows it completely. He hems me in behind and before. He has laid his hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139)