Let’s talk about Donald Trump.
Think of one word to describe ‘The Donald.’
It’s hard, isn’t it? To think of just one word to describe him. I can think of 10 words without even thinking, 100 more if you gave me 10 seconds to think. There are a lot of words that we could use to describe him, some supportive, some disapproving, some disrespectful. I have my own words that I’ll keep to myself, but the honest-to-God first word that came to my mind was:
From his promises regarding deportation to his views on Muslims to his statements about other politicians to his ‘New York values,’ he sets people on edge and causes others to practically salivate. He’s an object of political lust for some and a backdrop for dartboards for others.
Based on recent polls he’s the current front runner for the GOP. The polls don’t make him a shoo-in, they just indicate where he stands among the other candidates in the race for presidential nominee. We’ll see how things unfold.
The loudest critique I hear of Trump’s candidacy is that he doesn’t have a clear plan of action. This may be true, but he does have a massive platform. He knows it, too. While speaking at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina he emphasized his ability to pack out arenas. He recently received a rowdy endorsement from Tina Fey, I mean, Sarah Palin. And it’s becoming more evident that he’s won some sort of support from a few religious leaders, like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham.
This doesn’t guarantee anything, but it does warrant a couple questions.
What should we do if Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States of America? (Maybe a more pertinent question would be, what should we do with Trump in the meantime?)
As people for the well-being and thriving of humanity and the world, there are a few practices we must embrace no matter who’s in charge, or in office.
Remember The Powerless
When someone in leadership, at any level–social, educational, professional or presidential, overlooks or neglects the marginalized: the poor, the refugee, the disabled, the orphan, or the widow, we have an obligation to raise our voice on their behalf.
A voice of awareness.
A voice of compassion.
A voice of justice.
A voice of hope.
A voice to assure them that even though some may have forgotten them, we have not.
Proverbs 31:8-10 could not be more straight forward regarding this issue,
Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
Speak out in order to judge with righteousness
and to defend the needy and the poor.
These verses imply that we’re paying attention. That we notice the voiceless members of society all around us: the vulnerable, the subjects of injustice, the poor, and the needy, so we can speak on their behalf. To affirm and defend their rights, and their existence.
One of the most outstanding personifications of these verses is a man named, Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson represents children in prison and people on death row. The voiceless. He still believes they deserve a chance. For many, a second chance. A second chance for freedom and dignity. A chance for redemption.
I’ve come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet. I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law. I also believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don’t believe that. I actually think, in too many places,the opposite of poverty is justice.
Bryan Stevenson, TED2012
It can be hard to believe, but one voice can go a long way for the powerless. Imagine what more than one voice could do.
Pray For The Powerful
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
This has to be one of the most outrageous scriptures in the bible. It can feel almost as improbable as Jesus’ instruction to pray for our enemies. If we have a problem with authority in general, or a leader from a certain political party specifically, prayer is nearly impossible.
The writer of these verses, the Apostle Paul, brushes our preferences aside and makes prayer for all those in authority about more than what we want, or what we like. He says that our prayers for presidents (and presidential hopefuls) can actually save people. The interesting thing about the word saved is that it is traditionally understood as eternal salvation. The word can also mean to save a suffering one, or to save from destruction.
A legitimate task for any president.
To be frank, some of Donald Trump’s statements are threatening. Even though he wants to make America great again, his declarations have the potential to cause more harm than good.
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who is a missionary that travels regularly across the globe. I asked him how things were around the world and how the rest of the world views our presidential candidates. He responded by explaining that many global citizens tend to view U.S. citizens through the lens of our leaders and celebrities. If our leaders and celebrities act and speak one way, they reason, the rest of us must as well.
The categorization feels unfair, but the criticism and condemnation we have for them seems merited. If that’s accurate, cursing our country’s representatives will never produce the results that prayer has the potential to.
Prayer has a way of working on us personally, more than it appears to work on those we’re praying for. That may exactly be the point the Apostle Paul is making.
Live At Peace With Everyone
In a country obsessed with dualism–us versus them, who’s in and who’s out, drawing lines and picking sides–it’s natural to live at odds with others. Most of our nation’s division center’s around team rivalries, social, racial, and financial status, religious superiority, and, yes, political affiliations.
Disunity has the potential to breed dehumanization. When we view others as better and worse, valuable and worthless, loved and unloved, we will automatically treat people as less than us, or less than the group that validates us.
Romans 12:18 calls us to elevate our actions above the categories that divide us:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
We can’t force others to live at peace with us, this scripture has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with us doing everything in our power to live at peace with those around us.
Those on our team and those on the other team.
Those who believe what we believe and those who believe in something else.
Those who dress like us, look like us, think like us, and act like and those who have nothing in common with us.
Those on our side and those on the other side.
Those who vote like we do and those who vote for the other candidate.
Those who love Donald Trump and those who hate him.
Peace is willing to accept our differences and bless unconditionally simply because we all are human.
Whatever you do, use all the energy you can muster, to live at peace with one another.
These three practices are not exclusive to ‘The Trumpster,’ they’re necessary whether
or Christie gets elected.
Political despair is not a helpful response, and uncooperative disrespect will get us nowhere. Wherever you stand and however you vote:
Remember the powerless.
Pray for the powerful.
Live at peace with everyone.