That was the question voiced around the luncheon table of five, a group of women all living in our 6th decade on break after listening to Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist. Our assignment was to share something that spoke to us during the morning. When my turn, I voiced that other than feeling that I had been born about 15 years too early, (the gracious voices of so many women author/bloggers with names like Sarah, Glennon, Jen, & Nadia are balm to my weary conservatively raised soul), my takeaway for the day was “love your enemies.”
In answer to the “who is your enemy” question, I did my best to express that in today’s political climate, I often feel that certain ideas and beliefs, sometimes held by those I love, are “my enemy”. In reality, it has become apparent that I am out of touch with a great many fellow citizens. The Donald Trump and overall Republican party direction has been a tremendous shock and blow to my personal sensibilities. Within my heart and mind, such an extremely different point of view has become an enemy. At times, I have felt near panic over how to stop such a thundering avalanche of craziness.
The rise of Donald Trump is clearly tapping into something that is completely foreign to the experience of Tricia Wilson. If I just hunker down in my own corner and respond out of fear and disdain, then how am I any different from those on the Trump side of this equation? What in the world does it look like to honestly, on the ground, really and truly, love my enemy? I have no answers but am beginning to explore ideas.
I count myself as an open-minded person that can tolerate various points of view, yet it is always easiest when those views are close to my own. Though it is quite an exercise in restraint, I have decided that I need to try to better understand from where such passion and furor and downright meanness reported daily comes. Slowly, but surely, I have read the opinions of a few politically conservative voices to help me understand. Here and here is a start if you have any interest.
Attempting a level of understanding and just for a moment trying to put myself in the shoes of the enemy is a place to start. It doesn’t mean that I in any way, shape or form agree or support the often beyond disturbing expression of such people. But if I can’t tolerate their viewpoint, then my response is no different than the intolerance and hatred that I accuse of them.
Sometimes humor is the only way to make it through a given day. My recent favorite quotes said by people I love and share common thought, “[the Repubican primary race] feels like it is a “who gets thrown off the island next” situation. And, if Trump is so against immigrants coming to this country, he needs to stop marrying them. I hang out with funny people.
But humor and curiosity may not carry me through. At a point, it is no longer funny. There are lines that have been and I imagine will continue to be crossed. Any attempt to listen beyond the surface does not mean that I will not speak up or stay silent in the midst of hatred. I will not. Pledging allegiance and raising hands toward an egomaniac do bring up visions of Hitler. Building walls, threats to take out families and excluding people based on anything are counter to the Christianity in which I believe.
Squaring the "love your enemies, make swords into plowshares God" with the "you must not be silent in the midst of injustice God" is a complicated and confusing task. This week I have been challenged to take a baby step in what may be the toughest thing that Jesus asked his followers to do – love your enemies. I will continue to ponder just what that means in these most divisive days.