The year is over. Cripes... you just don't have any clue, ANY clue whatsoever what could be ahead, do you?
I think I've seen worse. '15 was worse, for sure. It seemed when things couldn't get worse, for me at least, that it just did. It would get worse. But I got out of it with more life experience than I expected, and it came in somewhat useful in '16. Sometimes you go through crap and it hardens you as a person, and it prepares you for what's to come. You know, it's sad that this is something that needs to happen to you in life sometimes just to survive, but, that indeed is life.
There sure was a lot of death this year. And it's not even over, There are a few hours left of '16 as of this very moment, and God only knows who's going to go next, and when. I've had relatives die, friends die, countless celebrities have died this year, sports stars... it all leaves a person quite numb when it's fed to us in such large, heaping doses. I do have my faith. Death doesn't do a lot to shake it. In fact, sometimes it even strengthens it. It forces people like myself to take a harder look at it, to find some kind of validation in it.
I like to go to church. In particular, my church, Saint Bernard's Roman Catholic here in Moncton. It's our city's oldest church at over 130 years. I'd left my last church in favor of St. B's because one of my favorite priests, Father Peter McKee, did services there. After Father McKee died a few years ago. Father Carroll took his place. I kind of grew up with Father Carroll. As an altar boy in my youth, I served with him as a deacon and watched him become a priest, one of the favorites in the local area because of his ability to personalize with the congregation. He's an everyman, someone anybody could talk to and feel very comfortable with.
Being a churchgoer, semi-regular at least (I'm on the church schedule as a reader, so I go at least every three weeks or so), I've found the church a very comforting place to be. It's good to be in there and just meditate, or pray, whatever you like to call it. Connecting with God takes work, I find. I have to have a clearer mind and be in a good place to actually feel 'the vibe', so to speak, but I do.
I know the vast majority of people don't go to church, and that's okay. This is just me. It's what I like. I don't think I get extra points in the books because I go as opposed to someone else who doesn't. If you're atheist, that's fine too. It's your choice. I think you should be judged by how you treat others. I know Christians who are utter assholes and atheists who are good as gold. Whatever.
When I was visited by a friend last summer who I used to work with, who became a nun a few years ago, I was taken aback by several things. Just with this particular visit. She comes to see us every year, and we share stories of what's happened in each others' absences, and update one another on our lives.
Here's the deal with why I'm writing this blog to begin with: This visit with my friend caused me to go into somewhat of a spiritual crisis that resonates to this day. My belief in God will always be there. My belief in Catholicism, though, got tested this summer.
Of course, '16 was the year that saw the election in the U.S. that made the whole world turn their heads and stare. Without delving too much into it, because it's been done and done and done again, the fact is that Americans elected a misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, faith-challenged, Russian sympathetic, unqualified public servant with no previous experience and bankruptcy-addicted serial wife cheater, climate change deniar and unapologetic compulsive liar to succeed the greatest president in our lifetime, effectively spitting in the face of those championing women's rights, environmental awareness, income equality, and anyone concerned about their rights to health care or even clean air and water. There are facts piled up from here to Kingdom Come to back up everything in this paragraph. These are not opinions, they're facts. And as a well known entertainer has said famously, you're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.
Now, my nun friend made it quite clear that she considered Obama to be what's driven the world backward in our modern era and that Trump was the man to make things right. When we discussed this particular subject, I threw a lot of questions at her. It would seem that her choice in Trump as a world leader is particularly faith-based, i.e. Trump is anti-abortion. Fair enough. I'm anti-abortion too, to a point. Getting pregnant is not an inconvenience, it's a gift, to me. I've felt that since my wife and I were blessed with our daughter. Doctors told her she'd more than likely never conceive, yet here our daughter is. Now she can't conceive, as she needed a partial hysterectomy shortly after having Alexandra. But if someone raped my daughter, or if a pregnancy threatened her life for some odd reason, you can bet I'd be siding with my little girl's choices. Something tells me Donald would be exactly the same way under similar circumstances, as would most conservatives in general. When shit happens to you, your opinions tend to change.
My friend also was told that Obama would be seeking a third term somehow so that World War III would be brought about. I'll leave that one all by itself, because I'll illustrate in a moment the reasons behind such a pattern of beliefs... I queried her on a few things, in light of her unabashed support of the King of Reality Television (sorry, Mr. Probst). Had she heard of Trump's mocking a disabled reporter at one of his rallies in South Carolina? How about when he basically told a mother to shut her baby up while he was speaking? He regularly incited violence at his rallies, how about that one at least? I don't suppose being a chronic liar while running for the most powerful position on planet Earth is an issue... is it? Surely being in charge of nukes, he won't consider using them even remotely, would he? Is it REALLY okay for a potential president to be saying things like grab them by the pussy; I did try and fuck her, she was married; I moved on her like a bitch, etc. God almighty, the list goes on and on and on. I don't know how it is that Teflon Don gets away with so much, so very much, when only one of these things would bring down any democratic nominee in a heartbeat. I digress.... my friend did not even know about one of these things. NOT. ONE. Zero. Now, you have to wonder to yourself, how can it be? How can someone possibly avoid it, even the most pro-Trump supporters?
The answer is, the filter of the Catholic Church. My nun friend was not even aware that our very own Pope Francis hesitated to even call Trump a Christian. Many of those in the Catholic faith and its clergy are fed filtered news, if you want to call it 'news' to begin with, that scarily seems to support an alternate agenda from what our very own Pope teaches. I know Lifesite News on the web openly and unabashedly supported Donald Trump for president based solely on his anti-abortion views. Never mind all the other stuff I just gave you links to. Never mind his elitist views and cabinet appointments that boasts the biggest collection of billionaires in the history of the world. Christian faith, and especially Pope Francis, after all, are ardent champions of the poor. A Donald Trump presidency is the antithesis of what Pope Francis stands for, and thus, Catholicism in general.
So, knowing all this... knowing that the inner core of Catholic media is controlled by what has to be seen as some form of extremism that only serves one singular purpose by and large, sent my faith into a tailspin. This was all strange to me, because when I go to mass at Saint B's, we regularly offer prayers for the poor, the homeless, and the unfortunate in general. Now we have to deal with a president on the way with mass approval who champions the rich, lives in palaces of his own making and revels at the disparities of others. My dear friend was surprised at all of the information that I'd offered her, and I even wondered whether she actually believed me, or if that it was all just hyperbole. Which it isn't, because the video footage is right there, along with an endless list of press of all the terrible things Trump has done and said over the years. It doesn't even scratch the surface.
I like to follow politics. I keep a close eye on it because I like to know what's happening in the world around me. I've voted Liberal, Progressive Conservative and Green in my voting life, and I can tell you I'm stuck voting Green probably the rest of my life. Voting for anything else is like voting against planet earth.
I respect the fact there are people from various sides of the political spectrum that support their parties, but I will never, ever respect groups like the Tea Party or anything that deems itself "alt-right". If you've openly supported Trump for his presidency, you've tested my faith in you as someone who's of sound judgment. I've had judgment issues over my life, hey, I'll be the first to tell you! But never, never has my discernment been as questionable as it has for hordes of people who voted for the man openly supported by the KKK and Vladmir Putin.
And so, I've lost faith, alright. I've lost faith in people. I've lost faith in democracy, where someone who garnered nearly three million less votes than their competitor actually won an electoral contest to decide who leads the free world. I've lost a lot of faith in Catholicism, but at least not its leader, whom I claim as my own. I've lost faith in the world's ability to pull up its bootstraps and stand up against climate change, no longer a theory but a fact supported by over 97% of the world's scientists. If you don't believe in climate change, that's too bad. You deserve to be ridiculed as supporting the 3% of scientists who side with you, yet you'll still buy the toothbrush that four out of five dentists recommend. You'll never buy the one that one out of five does.
My belief, outlandish as you might say, is that Donald Trump is perhaps the antichrist. Or at least a pawn to it. When we're talking about the proliferation of nukes and fossil fuels in an age where the world is already dying at record speed, and so many readily embrace that which enables the acceleration of it all, suddenly it doesn't seem too outlandish anymore.
As a symptom of my disbelief at it all, I've taken down my facebook. It's amazing, some of the stuff I see people post. It makes me sad, angry, and at times outright disgusted. Since leaving I've felt this feeling of peacefulness, somewhat at least. Perhaps, to a point, ignorance really is bliss. I may go back on it, I may not. Originally I just wanted to take a break.
I did have another blog page where I posted my own personal things about what's going on. I did make one last post some time ago, and it will be my last post there. I discussed my openness about mental illness and my battles with it frequently there. And I've decided I'm done with it. I've concluded that keeping it to yourself really is the best way to handle it. What I've discovered, sadly, is everyone wants to know what's wrong with you.... until they know. Then, it's like pressing two polar opposite magnets together. They seem to naturally push away. I've noticed it with friends, especially co-workers, and even with medical professionals, to a point. But I do have the support of my wife and daughter, and my family.
So as I grapple once again with the changing of medications, for the third time in the past six months, over the holidays no less, I'll sign off the year with a tinge of hope, but with the bristle of protective caution.
Because when '17 is over, I'm sure I'll look back and say, I had no clue that was coming.