I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t hate him either. I don’t take pride in my position, quite the reverse. I believe whenever we dislike someone it makes us seem smaller and causes the other person to loom larger. Indeed, disliking someone can make that person even more powerful than they would otherwise be.
When I was parenting children in my home I learned that it is better to tell a child “Do this,” rather than, “Don’t do that.” In other words, instead of saying, “Don’t leave your clothes all over the floor,” you say, “Please put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.” This is because people think in pictures. When we make the first statement the listener sees ‘clothes on the floor’ and when we make the second statement the listener sees ‘clothes in the basket.’ Even when it is just in our minds a picture is worth a thousand words.
Whoever invented the hashtag #NeverTrump may have unintentionally boosted the candidate’s campaign. The name repeated is Trump. The picture in our mind is Trump. Whenever we give someone our ire we are in danger of letting that person dominate our lives. When we let someone dominate our lives then we help to pave the way for that person to dominate others.
The commandment to “Love our enemies” is not necessarily altruistic. Our enemies have a way of living in our head rent-free. Loving our enemies can be a way to get our apartment back.
Spiritually speaking, being a Never Trumper or a Hillary Hater or a Bernie Basher is to be in danger of losing our center, our grounding. To despise any candidate is to put the focus on someone else when the only power we really have is in ourselves. We can shine the searchlight outward or we can shine it inward. Right now, might be a good time to shine it inward to see what resources we have in ourselves to bring to the challenges of our times.
We all have to start somewhere. To paraphrase Howard Thurman, “Sometimes I pray to be able to like a person. Other times I pray to want to like that person. Still other times I pray to want to want to like that person.” Spirituality is about being open and honest about where we are with an openness to change, growth, healing and wholeness. So I am where I am – but I am also open to moving in a more positive direction.
It is not enough to oppose a person. We must propose new possibilities. Action is more potent than reaction, affirmation more powerful than negativity. Donald Trump clearly wants to be liked so maybe the least I can do is want to want to want to like him.
As I write the “Defend the Sacred” movement at Standing Rock has received the good news that the oil pipeline is likely to be diverted from sacred lands protecting the water for future generations. The sacred has been defended and will need our continuing vigilance. On inauguration weekend there is going to be a Million Women March in Washington DC, not unlike the suffragist march when Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated. The first march was for a Democrat. The second is for a Republican. As citizens we may belong to different political parties but perhaps we can continue to move forward together as a nation in a positive and powerful direction.
(This is the second part of a pastoral letter written by the Reverend Chris Buice to the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.)