Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First thoughts on President Trump

Thanksgiving 2014: John, Eli, Liane
I imagine there will be quite a few musings on this blog about the upset that has overtaken the US with the election of Donald Trump.  Just as with Brexit, nobody believed it could happen until it did.  There is something strange in the water this season.  Here are some very quick thoughts, perhaps as much to help my spinning mind as to share with my friends.

1. "John, do you regret becoming a US citizen now?" No, a thousand times no. The US needs loyal but skeptical citizens now more than ever. This is my home, and I am duty bound to "seek its welfare".  To do so effectively requires citizenship and its rights and responsibilities - the full range, not just to vote now and again.  So far as it lies within me, I am ready.  If I had not been ready to vote this time, I would have felt in some strange way that I had betrayed my friends (even though that one vote could not possibly have made a difference.)

2. "What will you miss?"  Well, I think we will all soon be missing the grace, thoughtfulness and poise of Barack Obama.  But, on a more personal note, I miss Eli - God, I miss him today.  Even though today would have been an awful day for him, he would have turned it into intelligent, dry, humorous thought, helped me see it differently - and maybe would have helped me push through to a reason for hope (or maybe I would have helped him).  Eli made me look at the world upside down, to understand some of what the word "privilege" means and how it can be to live without it.  That is a lesson that, I hope, I will never forget.

3. "What danger are you in?"   I am in no danger.  I am a child of privilege: white, educated, straight, cisgender, articulate, and wealthy enough to be safe (at least for a while) in Trumpland.  I am also privileged by incurable cancer: a decision to deny the problems of climate change (which seems like a decision that a Trump administration will surely make) is a decision to privilege those presently alive over against future generations - and my diagnosis means that the problems of future generations will not, in a direct sense, be my problems.  Yes, I'm all right.  But if I allow that thought to undermine my commitment to fight for LGBTQ people or sustainable energy policies or environmental justice or policing as though black lives matter - well, let Eli be the first but not the last who is on my case if that should happen.  "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning." (Psalm 137:5)

4. "Can you see any good in this?" It yells to the church to be an alternative community, one embodying the values of the Kingdom.  These values are not those of Trump, nor of his elite opponents.  Never was an alternative community more needed.  Are we too compromised to enact it?  "With man it is impossible; but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)


Katherine Allen said...

Thank you, John. I appreciate the thoughts you've shared on a day when my own mind has been banging around like a pinball. I'm trying to focus on the positives- bloodless democracy in action, the passion that so many brought to this race, the space we all have to express how we feel about the results without really fearing any backlash. But I keep coming back to my feelings of gratitude - for my family, my friends and for belonging to a faith community that I can back into for much-needed support. That's where I'm finding comfort today.

Austen Hartke said...

Thanks for these thoughts, John. I love the idea of the church as an alternative community. That thought's gonna stick with me for a while!

Austen Hartke said...

Thanks for these thoughts, John. That one about the church as an alternative community is going to stick with me for a while!