Sometime in my life, I resolved to try to put myself in the place of others in my estimation of them. Curbing my natural skepticism and critical nature has proved to be no pic nic, I can assure you, as I have often had to backtrack, review, revise, and then move forward with the current iteration of that plan for kindness and understanding.
In the current case of Donald Trump, this is particularly difficult, because he is doing and saying evil things. How do I think well of someone who is hurting so many people?
This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for."
Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin
The pursuit of power has always baffled me and, although I have had plenty of experience with people who deliberately hurt others in order to benefit financially, I never have understood their larcenous hearts. Most disturbing are those who find delight in hurting others.
Fortunately, these types seem to be in the minority. (I have personal experience with only one individual in my life, who exults in damaging people just for the pleasure of it. There has been no period of time in which I was in touch with that toxic character that they weren't enacting some plot to harm me or some other person in her orbit. Nevertheless, I have no insight. The situation is too far outside my ken.)
So, what do I do about this contradiction? I wish to think well of others, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and look upon all with the kind regard demanded of us by our faith. How does one do this when faced with evil? I will not pretend that evil is good. So, what is the answer?
My latest resolution is to pray for people who are doing evil at the same time that I lobby against their hurtful actions, which is difficult, but that's the point, isn't it? Jesus knew what he was doing when He told us to pray for our enemies and do good to them. The spiritual exercise it demands is fearsome.
It is crucial, for me, that I do not label any human being "evil" because I would be eliminating the Lord from the equation thereby. I would be dooming that human being to a life devoid of the possibility of repentance and rehabilitation. Certainly, I myself have benefited from the forgiveness of the Lord in the past. I must give everyone else that same assurance.
Currently, there is a large group of people who are supporting government actions that are obviously evil - things that violate every precept we supposedly hold dear in our country - while at the same time confidently believing they are saving the world. Outsiders tend to presume that the people in that group know they are wrong and are deliberately doing wicked things in order to benefit in some way. That is sometimes the case, but not typically.
For whatever reason, whether through some brain washing, exotic fascination, or religious fanaticism, this group will support damnable atrocities of this administration, while at the same time asserting righteousness. I am frequently reminded of the Nazi era in Germany where Hitler rose to power, not through force, but through the support of ordinary Germans who somehow did not realize they were cooperating with evil. What is happening in our country is very similar to that time period. Trump's words are very similar, such as calling the news media "the enemy of the people," and "fake news." Hitler called the press "lugenpresse," ("lying press') and likewise demonized vulnerable groups of people, i.e., the Jews, the gays, the disabled, the elderly, and the immigrant.
The term "lugenpresse" has started to be heard in Trump rallies, yelled out by the "alt right" supporters of Trump. It isn't surprising, since the Nazi Party and various white supremacist figures have lauded Trump. You can read more about it:
HERE - IN AN ARTICLE IN BUZZ FEE NEWS; and,
HERE - IN BREITBART
It is quite clear to me, and no doubt to all my readers, that this adoption of a Nazi propaganda tool by the American right wing is the antithesis of American democracy, in which respect for and support of journalists is enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It seems incredible to us that Trump sycophants aren't bothered by it.
Prior to his election, Trump talked about demolishing the First Amendment so that he could sue journalists who write unflattering things about him:
The First Amendment protects free speech for a very important reason. It is the bedrock of our democracy. We are a country in which our citizens are free to speak their minds. Any attempt to quash that freedom is a sure sign of a dictatorship or fascist movement attempting to assert itself. I am free to say anything I like about Donald Trump and his cohorts. My spiritual orientation is what makes me want to keep an appropriate "lid" on what I say about his spiritual condition, but if I were to be compelled by law to conform to a rule of only saying flattering things about him and his policies, I would definitely be in the resistance on that score.
Some day, the mist may clear from the psychic eyes of the die-hard Trump supporters in government, and they may recognize their error and thereafter change the way they operate. I need to leave a space open for those folks to have the time to transcend their current condition, while at the same time, I fight to protect vulnerable people who are Trump's targets. It isn't easy!
Every day, I fight this battle. I try very hard not to succumb to the natural human impulse to say that he is evil personified, or the anti-Christ or whatever other slur that comes to mind. I keep thinking about former president Jimmy Carter and how he was always extremely respectful of his colleagues and his competitors alike. In the debates, he always used to say "my esteemed opponent."
Instead of reacting against the personality of Trump, I am trying to focus on the really excellent example of the dignified, respectable, truly Christian Jimmy Carter, who has a gravitas that Trump will likely never have. Once again, it is a matter of where one puts one's attention, right?
Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Repeat.
God save us all, including Donald Trump