Recently, in the readings for one of my seminary classes, I came across an ancient Chinese fable that left me thinking deeply about the state of the country and the world. The gist of the story is this: In a village a farmer came into possession of an excellent horse, a mare, and his fellow villagers were quick to praise the animal and declare the farmer to be very blessed. His response, “How do you know this is a blessing?” The horse runs away and the same villagers return saying that the farmer has been cursed. “How do you know this is a curse?” he replies. Days later the mare returns with along with a magnificent stallion causing the villagers to proclaim that the horse’s return must be a blessing for now the farmer has two magnificent horses, to which he replies, “How do you know this is a blessing?” Not long afterwards, his son attempts to ride the powerful stallion and in the process is injured, breaking a leg.The villagers return saying, “You were right, this is a curse!” The farmer replies, “How do you know this is a curse?” While the son recuperates from his injury a band of raiders is seen advancing on the village and all of the able bodied men meet them in battle. As the battle rages on, the raiders and most of the village men are killed. Meanwhile the farmer and his son are safe at home as the farmer tends to his injured son who likely would have been killed had he not had a broken leg.
By now you have likely figured out the moral of the story, which is, do not be too quick to label something either a blessing or a curse, for both things can come disguised as the other. Which brings me to today’s inauguration of Donald Trump, nee’ Drumpf, as 45th president of the United States. On the face of it, this is no doubt, a curse. The man is blatantly racist, misogynistic, a sexual predator, bigoted towards Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants and so clearly narcissistic that one wonders how he ever leaves the side of the pool into which he gazes at his reflection, basking in the delusions of his own grandeur. He has surrounded himself by far right wing ideologues who are hell bent on maintaining white supremacy and privilege while simultaneously attempting to destroy the planet in their lust for power and money. He denies the science of global climate change and makes dangerously provocative statements regarding other nations. He gives the appearance of being a puppet controlled by Vladimir Putin all while throwing hissy fits on social media because he cannot handle it when people lampoon him despite the fact that his words and actions make him low hanging fruit for comedians to pick. Many people in America and around the world are afraid and justifiably so because of his rhetoric and actions. How could the presidency of this orange skinned, dim witted, reality TV personality possibly be a blessing?
The emperor wears no clothes. Nor does the American Empire any longer. It now stands naked for all the world to see, with all of its systemic racism, systems of oppression, war mongering, and its capatialistic lust for money that threatens the very existence of humanity, in the open. Donald Trump represents the worst of America and American life. No longer can we as citizens pretend that all is well simply because the president is a “likable” person with seemingly boat loads of “integrity” while our nation drops tens of thousands of bombs per year on poor, brown people on the other side of the Earth. As much as Barack Obama did for America domestically, he undermined his legacy by being an agent of Empire and last year alone as Commander in Chief ordered that 26,171 bombs be dropped on people who are no threat to you or me. They were just pawns in a geo-political power play, a modern day Game of Thrones, with tragic consequences for those whom Jesus named, “the least of these.” We can no longer afford the complacency that so many of us, myself included at times, have indulged in simply because the bombs were not dropping on our streets.We can no longer afford to not see the world through the eyes of the oppressed and the marginalized. We can no longer stand idly by and watch as our neighbors of color are rounded up and put into for-profit prisons while white offenders get off either scot-free or with a slap on the wrist. We can no longer buy into or be duped by the “gospel of individualism” which is a divide and conquer strategy that only serves to keep systems of oppression in place by keeping people complacent, separate from and suspicious of our neighbors. In no ecological system in the natural world does a living thing exist without cooperation from other living things. Human beings do not, simply cannot, exist outside of the natural laws that govern life on this planet. We are made to be in community.
As I see it, as I MUST see it, Donald Trump’s presidency Can Be a blessing if we refuse to take this shit lying down any longer. It will be a blessing if we as citizens build community with our neighbors, helping them through times of pain and suffering, and celebrating in life’s victories together. It will be a blessing if we take to the streets and absolutely refuse to prop up systems of oppression, whether those being oppressed are our fellow Americans, or people from other parts of the world. It will a blessing if we find our niche in the non-violent revolution that must needs come if we want to have a habitable planet to live on without the constant threat of war and ecological destruction. It will be a blessing if Christians stand up en masse to live out the teachings of Jesus–loving God and neighbor, calling out corporate sin while refusing to judge individuals, embodying the beatitudes, and standing up to Empire for the sake of Shalom, instead of letting the atrocious theology of American civic evangelicism to “speak for Jesus” instead of Jesus’ words speaking for themselves. It will be a blessing if people of all faiths or no faith at all stand together and say no to Trump, no to hatred, no to division, no to war, no to bigotry, no to racism, no to misogyny, no to American exceptionalism, and YES to humanity, yes to love, yes to community. This is the only way to truly make America great again, which it hasn’t been since 1491…
We now have a choice that is perhaps more crystal clear than ever before because the scales should have now fallen from our eyes. We can make his term as president be a curse by trying to muddle through, not getting involved, not rocking the boat, and just wishfully thinking it were all different. Or, we can make it a blessing by banding together for humanity’s sake, and creating a society where both the rhetoric and the reality of “all people being equal” is the same. I pray we can all have the strength to do the latter because as Bob Marley once sang, “We’ve been trodding on the wine press, much too long, REBEL. REBEL. We’ve been taken for granted much too long, REBEL. REBEL.”