Today I was afraid to let my accent be heard in London. Anti-American messages were in front and on either side of me on people’s mobile phones and newspapers as I journeyed on the trains. I didn’t stop to order a coffee so I wouldn’t have to speak.
Today the news broke that Donald Trump was has been elected as the next president of the United States. And the world fears and despises him.
He talks tough, and has promised Americans a better America. You might have liked that he was a political outsider. You might have liked that he adopted a pro-life stance in party-politics. You might have liked that he’s a fairly successful businessman. But, my American friends, to the rest of the world, he’s a brash ignorant man, whose behavior is hallmarked by sexism, racism, and authoritarian (dictator-like, if you prefer) tendencies—dangerous set of characteristics for a world leader of a super-powered nation.
So they fear him. And they despise him.
Already the narrow-minded of our country (again, I speak of the USA) are using Trump’s ascension as an excuse to justify their bigotry; racism is on the rise both between adults and children on the playground. I watched a report of a white boy wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, and showing it to a Latina classmate. She was immediately upset and went back into the school, while the boy turned to high-five his fellows.
Is there any question, then, why on the black man’s phone next to me this morning I saw a meme of Trump replacing Obama, mocking Orange is the new Black, followed by the text “f*ckUSA.”
Even if you voted for the more noble aspects of what you saw in Trump’s promises, be aware that this is the message received by neighbors around the world.
So now is the time to display your nobility, Americans. You have [inadvertently?] projected an image of hostility and chauvinism. Instead now, move with grace and courtesy towards your fellow neighbors—both at home, and internationally. Be polite when you travel, be generous with you hearts and attitudes; rebuke racism and sexism wherever you encounter it, at home, in the workplace, abroad. Don’t stand for those things, and don’t let your leader get away with them either—in practice or in policy.
I would love to see Trump surprise the world and lead our nation into a prosperous age. I would love to see him conduct fair trade and foreign policy with our neighbors. I would love to see a new age of equality and care for one another in our schools and social systems. But Trump won’t (and perhaps can’t) do it alone. All of the passion that you just put into the last 18 months of presidential campaignery… Now put that same zeal into writing to your senators and representatives. See better changes made in your local communities and states. Step forwards and do with non-profit or private generosity what federal and State systems have no budget to do. And you make America great again. Fill the gaps. Love one another. Love the world.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment from God, he affirmed “Love God, and Love Your Neighbor.” When asked for a definition of “neighbor,” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan: the most hated minority in Jerusalem, showing compassion. He said that was a neighbor.
You’ll reap what you sow. So sow generosity. Sow love. Sow mercy.
If you don’t, don’t travel abroad any time soon. Your neighbors won’t be pleased to see you.