Searching for Sister-Spirit in the Presidential Campaign
October 27, 2016
At NETWORK, we work to embody the spirit of the sisters who founded our organization. There are several guiding principles of Sister-Spirit we try to follow, and my favorite is: Approach situations and people with hope and welcome. I am trying to find any hint of Sister-Spirit in this presidential election, but it feels like the time I tried to give my cat a bath: fruitless and more effort than it’s worth.
I know I am not alone when I say this presidential election season has been hard to bear. The hatful rhetoric expressed almost daily is painful to listen to. What mean-spirited tweet will be next, which outlandish accusation will be the topic of everyone’s Facebook feed? Surely, someone must be playing a joke on our country – a cruel, unfunny one, but a joke nonetheless.
It is easy to become consumed with despair, frustration, and animosity for those who are espousing bigoted ideas that go against almost every value you hold dear. Throughout this mercurial election season, amid the anger and fear, I often find myself thinking of the sentiment Dorothy Day expressed when she said “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” These are hard words to swallow when I frame them in the context of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The foundation of my faith rests on the notion that everyone is equally deserving of love, but can I honestly say I love Trump? Do I offer him the same empathy and patience I hope to receive from others? My faith does not tell me to love only those with whom I agree; it tells me to love everyone. There are no exceptions to this rule. Still, it is difficult for me to look at someone who has made it very clear he does not respect women, people of color, immigrants, or anyone who is different from himself and see him with compassionate eyes. This is not a man I would want to cross on the sidewalk, let alone a person I want running my country.
One could argue that I do not owe Donald Trump anything. My loyalty should lie with the people Trump condemns, mocks, and disrespects, rather than wasting my time trying to force sympathy for a man so determined to bully his way to the presidency. On one level, I am inclined to agree. What does Trump deserve from me except my disapproval? Every time I hear him speak my shoulders tense and an instinctual urge to cut him down with dismissive sarcasm takes over. I have never felt such bitterness. Yet, underneath the disgust and horror is a small kernel of sympathy. I think of how very lonely life must be for a person who surrounds himself with hate. If I love God then I must try my best to love Trump, because God can be found in even the most contemptuous heart. There must be something more beyond this twisted visage of cruelty and hatred he presents to the world. I have to believe there is something more. So, I am trying to hear the pain behind the poisonous words he spews. I am trying to embrace Sister-Spirit and approach Donald Trump with hope and welcome.