A Letter to Trump Supporters

The letter below was penned by my friend Ray Schellinger in the wee hours of this morning upon Donald Trump being declared president-elect.  Ray is a Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to advocating for those on the margins. He directed Debra’s House a shelter for women fleeing domestic abuse in Tijuana, Mexico.  He currently works on behalf of refugees fleeing violence and oppression.

This past week he was in Jordan visiting refugee camps for those fleeing civil war in Syria.  Ray is a man of faith and integrity.  He takes to heart the words of Jesus ‘whatever you do unto these the most vulnerable of my sisters and brothers you do unto me’ (Matthew 25:40).  I invite you to read:

My dear friends, I cannot begin to express how heavy my heart feels right now. I know some of you greet this news with the opposite reaction. You are very happy, perhaps because you were truly afraid of what a Clinton presidency might mean. I am happy for you, and hope that this decision that you helped make happen will bring the positive things that you envision for our country.

I am afraid, however, and ask that you try to comprehend my fears and those of so many others who are offended by the character of the campaign that was run. We have seen blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia, and a pandering to the worst angels of our nature.

I fear for migrants who live here with us now, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, people of color, and many more of our most vulnerable citizens. I fear for our social safety net, for the advances we’ve made and civil rights, and for the availability of education and healthcare. I fear for the environment, and for the state of the earth that we leave for our children, I fear for the growing chasm between rich and poor in the US, as well as the undue influence of money in our political system, I fear for the relationships we have with the global community and allies, and the difficult International situations that we must navigate with wisdom and consistency.

I know these things are important to you too, and I ask that we join together to safeguard the values that we hold most dear, and to protect the lives of our most vulnerable. Please understand, that though I respect the will of the majority, I do not believe that the majority is always right.

Please remember that it is often a tiny minority which stands in prophetic witness to justice and the right. This incoming administration will have a great deal of power, and one party will hold the advantage in all branches of government. There is a great potential to abuse this majority. I am not at all confident that a President Trump can temper the power he will hold with a desire to protect the interests of the minority or the unity of the country.

If this was your choice, then this becomes your responsibility-to hold your candidate accountable to the wellbeing of us all. I join with you in praying that these fears are unfounded. I pray that we can continue to come together to work for justice, peace, and hope.

Shalom, my friends, shalom.

Antidote to Election Bitterness

This has been a bitter, nasty political season.  The level of vitriol which transcends political party has created fissures among groups and within families.

Whichever political party wins the presidential and congressional election we will all have  work to do.  It will take work to live into the promise of our Pledge of Allegiance…‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’.

How do we mend the divisions that threaten to pull us even further apart? How do we live into the values that guide us?

To begin we must understand the deep-seated fear and despair that many in our nation are feeling. We need to understand what brought about this alienation and offer practical and effective solutions.

People need to have hope.  In the absence of hope the gulf that separates us will only deepen and grow.  This is the long-term challenge for those we elect and for all citizens.

At the risk of appearing simplistic, I offer two steps that I think are essential in restoring us to unity as a people. 1) Listen.  Find people who voted differently than you and simply ask them ‘why’.  Don’t argue. Listen to understand why they feel the way they do.  Listen to their fears.  Listen to their hopes.

Understanding one another’s fears and hopes are essential first steps to finding solutions.  Listening to understand is a profound expression of respect. We may not readily agree on solutions but when we feel heard we are already on our way to finding common ground.

2) Offer kindness.  This political season has made us more coarse as a society.  We’ve talked at and past one another.  How can we respond?  With kindness.  https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Starting with election day intentionally offer a ‘random act of kindness’.  Offer an act of kindness at least once a day for one week.  Who knows, it may become a life-giving habit.

In line for coffee?  Buy a cup for the person behind you.  At an intersection?  Flash your lights and let someone else make their turn.  Passing someone on the sidewalk?  Say ‘hello’.   See someone looking tired and stressed?  Offer a silent prayer of blessing.

Have a neighbor or family member who you’ve been avoiding because of politics?  Offer a gift of kindness.

photo-of-kindness

Not only will the act of kindness bless someone else, it will also begin to soften your heart too.  The path to reconciliation ain’t rocket science. Listening and offering acts of kindness can go a long way in bringing us back together as ‘one people’.

Come Wednesday morning nearly half of us will be pissed off or despondent.

Win or lose we each can choose how we will respond.  We can choose to listen and be kind.  In such simple acts we will find our way as a nation.

Donald Trump Meets The Paper Bag Princess

Twenty years ago I was a Dad with two young daughters. I knew I couldn’t protect them from all the foibles of society. What was within my control was to be the best Dad I could be. To offer them a healthy male role model. I knew that they were fortunate to have a wonderful role model in their mother. The wild card was me.

I had the power to do good or do harm. I knew my daughters were growing up in a society that too often objectifies girls, defining how they should look. I knew too that society can place limits on the dreams of girls and boys.

My hope for our two daughters was that they would grow up to be strong, confident, adventurous, curious and compassionate women. We’ve encouraged our girls to dream big, trust their instincts and have a heart for those on the margins.

Have I always been successful? No. Am I sometimes inconsistent? Yes. But I keep on trying to be the best dad I can be.

I’m grateful that we’ve raised our two remarkable daughters in a supportive church and community. It truly takes a village.

So it’s troubling on many levels to see that the presumptive Republican nominee for President is a misogynist. Donald Trump has called his fellow candidate, Carly Fiorina ‘ugly’ and dismissed Fox newscaster Megyn Kelly with crude language. The New York Times recently published an article entitled, ‘Crossing the Line: Trump’s Private Conduct With Women’. Based on dozens of interviews the article offers a consistent pattern of objectifying and belittling women who stand up to him.

I don’t want Mr. Trump in the White House. I don’t want him around my daughters. There is already to much sexism, we don’t need it coming from our nations highest office.

When our girls were little, I went to the library looking for a story where the girl was the hero. The librarian introduced me to a book entitled ‘The Paper Bag Princess’. The book tells the story of a girl waiting to be rescued by her prince. After waiting a very long time, the princess decides to rescue herself. Along the way she fights dragons and eventually meets her prince. The prince however is hapless and in need of being rescued from dragons. The princess rescues the prince. Instead of saying ‘thank you’, the rescued prince, critiques the princess for having a torn dress and disheveled hair. To her credit, the princess calls him a ‘jerk’ and tells him to ‘take a hike’.

Paper Bag Princess

I read this book many times. Our daughters grew up believing that they too were strong, smart and adventurous. The lives they are living testify to this.

This election is personal. Not only for the sake of my daughters but for all girls and boys. Children are looking to us adults to show them what it means to be a healthy woman and man. Mr. Trump, you’ve met your match in The Paper Bag Princess.