‘Do Unto Others’, Mr. Trump

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Warning: rant ahead!

Historians know that the beginning of WW1 took the form of a series of baby steps over a period of several weeks. The end result was not inevitable; indeed, the various participants had been to the brink before. All it needed was for someone to step back and say, ‘Look, we can see where this is going; is this really what we want?’

I’m not suggesting that Canada and the United States are going to go to war with each other. But a trade war could be devastating, and our countries are old friends. Many, many people in the Canadian government have tried to get the Trump administration to face facts. How is it to their advantage if they devastate the Canadian auto industry? After a few more years of this kind of thing, what happens the next time the U.S. gets attacked by terrorists and needs alternative landing sites for its aircraft? How is it to the advantage of the U.S. to be isolated on the world stage, with Vladimir Putin as its only friend.

Mr. Trump claims to be a Christian (although I have a hard time seeing any evidence at all of that), and many of his supporters are vociferous in making that claim too. Well, Jesus taught us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. He didn’t teach us to make ourselves great again; he taught us to look out for each other. He said ‘Whoever wants to be greatest of all must be the servant of all’. ‘My country first, no matter what it does to the countries around me’ can’t be supported by a single line of the New Testament. And especially when the country using that slogan is already the most prosperous country in the world, with the economic clout to force its will on others (as it is now trying to do on its oldest and friendliest neighbour).

Do you remember the great commandment, Mr. Trump? Surely your Bible knowledge extends that far. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That’s meant to apply to every part of life. Jesus isn’t just Lord of our personal lives; he’s Lord of our political lives too. Maybe, Mr. Trump, you need to start thinking about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of the suffering you are already inflicting on others. And maybe you need to remember that the God of the Bible has an unbroken record of being on the side of the underdog. You should think about that next time you say ‘God bless America’. God has already told you the conditions on which he will bless America (or any other nation). You’ll find them in Isaiah 58.

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A Resolution

I think from now on I’m going to restrict my political comments to quotes from my favourite songwriters.

Here’s a good start.

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the streets shouts ‘Security comes first!’
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse –
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

Trump and Jesus

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Donald Trump appears to be leading the world into a time of belligerence, building walls, turning on your neighbours, and picking fights with everyone about every little thing.

People of Jesus, do not follow him in this. Our Lord is about compassion, forgiveness, caring for the poor, welcoming the stranger, loving enemies and praying for those who hate us, sharing the good news of God’s love, and seeking first the Kingdom of God built by love, not the earthly empire built by force and coercion.

Let’s commit ourselves to following Jesus in loving God, our neighbours, and even our enemies.

Last or First?

trump-tweet-dec-22Reading Donald Trump’s tweet about nukes yesterday (‘until the world comes to its senses about nukes, we need lots more of them!’) reminded me of an old story about a Puritan and a Quaker in eighteenth century colonial America (I’m telling the story from memory, and I may not get all the wording right).

The two were arguing about ‘pacifism’ (the Quaker rejected all violence as incompatible with following Jesus, while the Puritan did not). Eventually the Puritan said to the Quaker, “Well, if all men were as you are, I would believe as you do too”.

To which the Quaker replied, “Then the difference between you and me is that you want to be the last good man on earth, and I want to be the first”.

The Trouble with Normal

Suddenly, this Bruce Cockburn song from the early 1980s seems horribly relevant again.

 

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the third world trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local third world’s kept on reservations you don’t see
“It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When the ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and the landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Written by Bruce Cockburn • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Carlin America Inc