Monday, December 4, 2017

What is the cure for Trumpism? An Advent Reflection

On the first Sunday of Advent, I woke up with a splitting headache, and  a feeling of depression. I tried to pull myself together by saying a few prayers and taking couple of Ibuprophen, but my heart was heavy. I felt sick about the Republican tax scam and what's happening in our country. I went to my Quaker Meeting feeling disoriented and had a hard time focusing. As I sat in the silence, I realized that my unease was related to our nation's disease, Trumpism. My heart started to pound and my head ache went away. I realized that God was giving me a message I needed to share. 

I rose and told the Meeting that how terrible I felt, both physically and emotionally. I shared my feelings about the tax scam and also about my Greek doctor who is a Trump follower. Two years ago I switched to this doctor in part because she was my wife's doctor and she wanted to get to know me as a Greek Quaker. I wanted to get to know her as a Trump supporter and hoped we could have an interesting dialogue. There has always been some tension between us, but it's been tempered by humor and friendship. Then this week on Facebook she launched into a tirade against Muslims, beginning with Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian activist who helped organize the Women's March. When I tried to defend Muslims, my doctor became more and more insulting. She called me "cultural Marxist" and said I was out of touch with reality. I tried to be reasonable and courteous. Because she is Greek orthodox and I was baptised Greek orthodox, I quoted my favorite Orthodox leader Metropolitan Bartholomew who said he wanted to have a respectful dialogue with his "beloved Muslim brothers and sisters" and not try to convert him. I shared my own experiences meeting with Muslim, Jewish and Christians parents who had lost children to the violence in Israel/Palestine and were working together to build trust and promote peace. But in response to my comments, my doctor and her friends spewed more and more hatred of Muslims and finally my doctor said, "Anthony, you are choking me with your bs."

Her comment shocked me. A year ago, when she posted something on my Facebook page and a friend of mine called her an idiot, I defended my doctor and said that I did not want her to be insulted. Now she was inciting her friends to insult me. I wrote that I did not want to have  a dialogue with her if she persisted in insulting me. My Greek father taught me that if you get angry or insult your opponent, you've lost the argument. I would be willing to dialogue if she was willing to be courteous.

Her response was to unfriend me.

What made this especially painful is that I am supposed to meet with this doctor and have an annual check up this week. How can I trust her as a doctor if she has no empathy or respect for me?

I am struggling to figure out: What is the cure for this kind of bigotry and hatred? What is the cure for Trumpism?

I really don't know. I know that social media doesn't work. Maybe face-to-face dialogue could help? Clearly I don't want this woman as my doctor, but maybe we can still be in some kind of relationship. But how? I don't know. Our country is so sick and divided. 

I do know that what heals me from the effects of Trumpism is being around people who are compassionate and loving and care about peace and justice. I was very happy to learn that there will be a launch of Rev. Will Barber's Poor People's Campaign today at the Union Church in little Tokyo. I am eager to go there and be part of this Beloved Community.

I also feel blessed to be part of Orange Grove Meeting at this time. Several Friends came up to me and offered words of wisdom and comfort after my long and painful message.

As Christ commanded, I am holding my doctor in prayer. Clearly she is not a follower of Jesus, or even of her own spiritual leader, Metropolitan Bartholomew. She is a member of the Trump cult and is being led down the road that leads to darkness and death. I feel sad and sorry for her and her ilk. I hope that someday, somehow, she will catch a glimpse of the light that shines in the darkness, the light of love and truth that changed the world two thousand years ago, and still has the power to transform hearts and minds. And also whole societies!

This is my Advent Prayer: May the Light of Christ illumine the heart to my Greek doctor and of all our elected officials, including Trump and his followers. May they truly understand the gospel of Jesus who said: "I have come to proclaim good news to the poor, sight to the blind, release to the captives, comfort to the afflicted and the Favorable Year of the Lord," the Jubilee Year, when debts are forgiven and poverty ended. 

This is the Word of the Lord, God's intention for our world, and I pray that it be fulfilled in our time. 

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