Will Rogers was famously quoted as saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
Mr Rogers died well before Donald Trump was even born, so I believe he fully meant his credo at the time. Had he lived a little longer, I wonder if he’d make the same blanket declaration. I’m not so sure.
I can still remember my mother’s stern reprimand whenever as a child, I’d comment that I hated this person or that person:
“Hey!” she’d admonish me sharply. “We don’t hate anyone!”
I knew then and still know what she was trying to teach me: that hating what a person does, doesn’t mean hating who they are; that we can and should try and separate people from their actions. She was reminding me that there is humanity buried deeply, even within those who do the most terrible things, and that I should strive to see it.
My mom and Jesus always seemed to be in agreement on this.
There is in my Christian tradition, a persistent call to love; to love others as I believe God loves me, to love my neighbor as myself—to even love my enemies. For most of my life this has been my greatest aspiration; to see the good in all people, to acknowledge their inherent worth, to believe that every human being is made in the image of God and that I should revere that truth in them.
Right now I may be letting Will Rogers, Jesus, and my mother all down—but I’m pretty sure I hate Donald Trump.
I’m also pretty sure that I’m okay with it.
For me, this hatred is actually a matter of the deepest, truest love. It is a Jesus-emulating faith affirmation. You see, among his directives to love, Jesus also commanded us to love the least; to fiercely protect the marginalized and forgotten and vulnerable, to defend those most assailed by men abusing their power and preying upon them. Jesus unequivocally, explicitly, and fully detested when people were victimized by the religious and the wealthy—and he saved his harshest words and most visible outrage for these offenders.
I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, and a pastor for two decades. My study, experience, and understanding of the Jesus of the Gospels, tells me that he would be fully sickened by Donald Trump and by those who partner with him—and that they would be directly in the crosshairs of his most furious righteous anger.
If his feet were on the planet, this Republican Evangelical cancer currently laying waste to the poor and the sick and the outsiders while claiming his name—would be the very table he would be overturning. And as someone aspiring to imitate him, I am glad to stand in his stead and flip them.
I am okay with my practical hatred of Donald Trump, because I can’t separate who he is from what he does—when what he does is the only tangible experience I have of him; when what he does directly impacts my children, the safety of my family, the lives of hundreds of millions of people, the air we breathe and the ground we stand on.
What Donald Trump does and what this Republican party does comprise the only experience people of color have with them, that Muslims have with them, that the LGBTQ community has with them, that women have with them, that citizens of this country have with them.
In other words, individually this President and each man and woman currently collaborating with him may indeed have a humanity that may or may not be visible up close—but endured together and in the capacity they are impacting the world (which is the only relationship we have with them), they are something of the gravest violence, something fully inhuman, something worthy of disdain.
I can and should hate this.
All decent, loving, compassionate people should.
Every person claiming to care about what Jesus cared about should.
Good people should unapologetically hate atrocities against humanity.
Christians should be fighting it instead of cultivating it.
A good friend scolded me yesterday that she wanted to see me, “focus on what I’m for, not what I’m against.”
I knew what she meant.
I tried to tell her that I am already doing that.
It’s because of who I’m for—that I’m so against this.
I love and am for people who are sick and facing life threatening illness—and I hate and stand against those stand between them and wellness.
I love and am for Transgender teenagers and gay couples and lesbian clergy—and I hate and stand against those putting them through hell simply for trying to live authentically.
I love and am for people who flee unthinkable violence and fear to reach this country—and hate and stand against those who offer them no compassion and only contempt.
I love and am for women who’ve lived their entire lives in a culture of misogyny and sexism—and hate and stand against men who perpetuate individual and systemic violence against them.
I love and am for young black men who still fear law enforcement and their government—and hate and stand against those who vilify and condemn them for taking a knee or pleading to be treated with simple equality.
I love and am for Muslims who aren’t able to worship outwardly and freely without derision and harassment—and I hate and stand against those who mischaracterize them and incite such mistreatment.
I love and am for the hurting, the marginalized, the isolated, and the bullied—and I hate and stand against the wounders, the marginalizers, the isolaters, and the bullies.
And because of the deep love that I have for this country, for its Constitution, and for its beautifully radiant diversity—yes, I hate this President.
I hate what he and those alongside him are doing to good, loving, decent human beings who call this place home, and I’m going to keep hating such things because that is simply the other side of caring for the least of these.
Silence in the face of oppression isn’t love it’s compliance, it’s participation.
Opposing it is how I show who and what I am for.
Hatred of injustice is a redemptive way of loving people most threatened by it.
I hope Will Rogers, my mother, and Jesus will all be okay with that.
I think I am.