Hate won on Tuesday. People who voted for Trump may not feel like they voted for bigotry and hate, but nonetheless, hate won.
I have heard arguments for Trump ad nauseum that his presidency would be better for small businesses, or he’s better because he’s not from the Washington establishment, or “he tells it like it is” (translation: says things you want to hear). However, these arguments only stand if you have the convenience of privilege. If you and those you love are not a person of color, an immigrant, Muslim, Latino, part of the LGBTQ community, a woman, or disabled, then you have the freedom to ignore the vile rhetoric that regularly spews from Trump’s mouth. From a position of privilege, you can ignore the misogyny, racism, and hate because it doesn’t affect you.
But for Christians, there’s a problem with this: we are called to love our neighbors. And our neighbors include people of color, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos, members of the LGBTQ community, women, and the disabled. So even if we sit in a position of privilege (like I do), we cannot, in good conscience, ignore the demeaning way he treats people who are not straight, white, able-bodied men.
Many Americans feel forgotten in our current political and economic environment and voted for Trump because they fear their way of life is dying. But Christians must not be primarily concerned with preserving of our way of life; our foremost aim must be loving God and loving others. Trump did talk about issues, and one or more of those may have resonated with you. However, the most consistent thing about Trump’s campaign was hate speech. If you voted for Trump — whatever your intention in casting that vote — you voted for the normalization of hate speech.
However, what’s done is done. We must figure out how to best live in the reality we have sown for ourselves.* And the best way we can live in any circumstance is to love people. To love people who are marginalized and oppressed, to love those who fear for their lives and safety. Cook a halal meal for neighbors who are now scared to wear the hijab. Ask a person of color or an LGBTQ friend if there is anything you can do to make them feel more safe. Listen to the fears and concerns of your friends and neighbors. And pay them the simple respect of believing them.
But do you see a potential snag with the above examples? Read through them again if you need to. Each of those examples assume you have a friend that feels threatened by Trump’s election. I’m guessing many people who voted for him don’t. Or maybe they do, but they don’t know that friend well enough to know or think about the fear and uncertainty his election brings. So if you are seeing the marches, protests and petitions happening across the nation right now in response to Trump being elected, and you personally don’t know anyone who might take part in those things, I’m asking you to withhold your judgement of the many who are. I’m asking you to listen and attempt to empathize with people whose experience of living in America is very different from your own. Seek out their voices. Listen to their stories. Consider their narratives, however much they differ from your own.
However, listening isn’t enough. It is a wise — and probably the only effective — way to start, but it is not enough. In these coming four years and beyond, Christians will need to live with winsomeness, love, generosity, and boldness, sacrificing our comfort in order to be a friend and ally of the oppressed and forgotten. We need to remember that Jesus had only venom for people who used their power to oppress, and had compassion for those who were oppressed.
Hate may have won the day on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean it has to win for the next four years.
*Please understand me here. I am not asking those who are deeply hurting as a result of this election to buck it up and move on with this new reality. You deserve the space to grieve and figure out your life in the midst of this madness at your own pace. I am talking to people like myself whose privilege insulates us from fully understanding or experiencing your pain.