America is pretty split about the inauguration of our next president, Donald Trump. Huge pockets of society are preparing for parties, thrilled that the country will finally somehow be made “great again.” Other segments of the population are deeply upset, concerned that this man’s personality alone will lead to major domestic and world crises. Then, there’s the life-as-usual crowd that would rather not be concerned with political affairs, either because they can’t do anything about it, or because they are too busy making ends meet to be wrapped up in such things.
I go to church with all of those people. John Wesley would advise me (in his 10/3/1774 journal entry) that I should “speak no evil” of the person I voted against, and that Christians everywhere “take care that their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” A year later, in a sermon remembering British soldiers killed in America, Wesley also said of the relationship between ruler and nation: “God frequently punishes a people for the sins of their rulers, because they are generally partakers of their sins, in one kind or other.” You see, John Wesley, and many other Christian teachers, acknowledge the reality of social sin…that people collectively participate in both good and evil that we are often blinded to.
This week began with the national celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s accomplishments. We collectively benefit from the differences made during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Most of North American society now elevates MLK as a hero, quoting him even if we don’t always understand him or live out his dream, because we honor his legacy of seeking to unite people as equal children of God. Regardless of your opinion on Barack Obama, it is impossible to imagine he could have become president had not Martin Luther King, Jr. paved the way for a society more open to the equality of people of all races. Because God did create all humanity in God’s image, human diversity is a built in reality of God’s creation, and many of us believe that because brave people of the past challenged the more popular notions of their day that one group was superior to another.
This week will end with the inauguration of the 45th president of the USA. His words, actions and demeanor will represent this country…just like each president before him. This country will benefit from the things he does well, and will take the repercussions of what he does poorly…just like each president before him. The reason people are protesting and speaking out of fear is because they can’t remember a previous president that was more irresponsible with his words, actions and demeanor than president-elect Trump. Well, I guess they can, but these were presidents who existed before it was generally accepted to speak of their female colleagues, minorities, the disabled, and people of other religious backgrounds as equals. They are worried because you can no longer use your free speech and solid factual evidence to say that last sentence without one of the most powerful rulers in the world noticing it and cyber bullying you on his Twitter account. The truth is that hate groups have become more bold with their hatred because they are mimicking what they see in our president. The truth is that we are all responsible for this.
I’m not knocking Trump-supporters, and I’m not knocking Trump-haters. You can say Trump is “Not Your President, ” I get it. But he is. Trump is my president. And I am now responsible for the way this country will work for the foreseeable future. Because I am wrapped up in social good and in social sin the same. Republicans and Democrats, praise your Party’s President all you want, but we are all responsible for drone warfare. We are all responsible for Aleppo. We are all responsible for the death of unborn children. We are all responsible for human trafficking. We are all responsible for…well, you name it and our country has had our finger in it. Let that spur you to be the change. Let that spur you to never tolerate bullying, even though your president does it on a national platform. Let that spur you to challenge the morals of your political party, because both parties really, really suck with the morals thing. Let that which is praiseworthy inspire you to reshape the world around you, until your president recognizes the need for personal growth in order to reflect the society he or she is leading.
And for the love of Christ, pray for your president.