Loving People, Post-Election

   Written by on November 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

logo-smith-gregEvery day when we read the newspaper or watch TV we are inundated by the world’s violence.  Unthinkable violence happens not only in war-torn countries, but it seems lately our nation has become more and more of a dangerous place.   According to the Daily Mail,1 “Two men were arrested in Meriden, Connecticut…and are accused of punching and kicking a man holding a Trump election sign. New York police meanwhile are looking for a suspect accused of choking a man wearing a red ‘Make America great again’ hat on the subway.”  A viral video that depicts a group of Clinton-supporters beating a man who voted for Trump.  Yet the violence has gone both ways.  The Advocate2 reports a gay man brutally beaten by Trump supporters on election night.  According to New York Daily News3, “Two Trump supporters attacked an Ohio college student as one of them told her, “Don’t you worry, honey, President Trump says this is OK.”  For decency, I have edited blogger John Pavlovitz’ report:

Near San Francisco, a home in Noe Valley flew a nazi flag where kids walk by to get to school.

A white middle school student brought a Trump sign to school and told a black classmate it was time for him to get “back in place”.

A gay New York City man getting on a bus was told that he should “Enjoy the concentration camps, f—-t!”

The NYU Muslim Students Association found the word “Trump!” scrawled on the door of their prayer room.

A female seminary student was stopped at a coffee shop with the words, “Smile sweetheart, we beat the c–t.”

…A group of Hispanic kids in Raleigh were taunted by white children, telling them they were “going back to Mexico.”4

We shrink in disgust when we read such things.  Certainly WE would never do things like that!  Of course, OUR KIDS would never behave that way—we raised them better!  Right?  What makes a person prone to such thoughts and actions?  Generally it is the fact that they’ve begun treating the other person as another person.  What do I mean by that?  Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 that whatever we do to another person, we do to Him.  In other words, we are all connected.  Just as surely as I am created in God’s image, so are you.  When I treat you with violence, I’ve forgotten the image of God that dwells within you.  I’ve failed to see God’s presence within you, and the divine thread that connects you to myself.  In Acts 9, we read about Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians, who likewise forgot that the other person is also sacred.

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

Eternal life begins with a conversion of the heart. Saul’s Damascus Road experience is a dramatic version of what every believer goes through when Jesus takes hold of the soul.  We realize the oneness of our relationship with the Sacred Other.  It isn’t simply another person that Saul is persecuting–it’s Jesus.  And if Jesus is in the Other, then Jesus is in the Self.  So Saul has been doing violence to his own soul at the same time that he has been murdering others.  To receive Jesus is to receive others–even the parts of them that you don’t like.  To receive Jesus is to receive myself–even the parts of me that I don’t like.  It’s to forgive others and myself.  It’s to love others and myself.

This immense love is not always easy.  Christian author Richard Rohr says,

“You do not need or demand anything back from them, because you know that you are both participating in a single, Bigger Gazing and Loving–one that fully satisfies and creates an immense Inner Aliveness. Simply to love is its own reward. You accept being accepted–for no reason and by no criteria whatsoever! This is the key that unlocks everything in me, for others, and toward God, so much so that we call it “salvation.”5  

To love, without demanding anything back–to accept being accepted–these things take the kind of conversion that Saul experienced.  They take becoming blind to my own ego, and being healed by Christ.  They take a full transformation of self.  As Saul changed his name from a kingly one to a humble one, so my attitude needs to change as I lay down my Self for the Other.  What about you?  What attitudes in your life need to change—so you can stop doing physical or emotional violence to the Sacred Other who is near you?  How can you learn to love as God loves?

(Endnotes)

1 Michallon, Clemence.  “Trump Supporters Under Attack.”  November 12, 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3930834/Trump-supporters-attack-Wilson-Eschevarria-Anthony-Hobdy-arrested-Connecticut-New-York-police-hunt-suspect-choked-subway-passenger.html.  November 16, 2016.

2 Alonso, Katrina.  “Gay Man Brutally Attacked By Trump Supporters on Election Night.”

November 10, 2016. http://www.advocate.com/election/2016/11/10/gay-man-brutally-attacked-trump-supporters-election-night.  November 16, 2016.

3 Salinger, Tobias. “Ohio college student says two Trump supporters assaulted her.”  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ohio-college-student-trump-supporters-assaulted-article-1.2874628.  November 16, 2016.

4 Pavlovitz, John. White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump: Fix This. Now.  November 10, 2016.   http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/10/white-christians-who-voted-for-donald-trump-fix-this-now/.  November 16, 2016.

5 Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 140-142.

Reprinted from thelogosprayer.blogspot.com

© 2016 Greg Smith

revgregsmith@gmail.com

About Greg Smith

Greg Smith is a Baptist minister who has served churches in Central and Southside Virginia. He lives in Halifax County, VA with his wife and children. To read more of Greg’s writings check out his blog at revgregsmith.blogspot.com.

Connect

View all Posts

Leave a Reply