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September 2020 - Why I love Donald Trump

Friends,

As we head towards the elections in the United States of America, I want to tell you why I love their current president, Donald Trump.

It might surprise you, and perhaps I surprise myself, but there you are.

It might not surprise you that I don't love him for his wit and wisdom – both are notably absent. It is certainly not for his measured response to various crises, or his considered and thoughtful decisions. It is not for his purported views on gender, race, equality, migrants, foreigners in general, people in poverty in particular, or medical acuity, and I would certainly not imbibe any of his prescriptions. It is not because I believe him to be of sound mind, moral rectitude or compassionate intentions. I would think it hard to find some other eligible person with a pulse who is less suited to the role of POTUS than the present incumbent, who himself displays such a remarkable lack of any of the requisite predispositions required for such a demanding responsibility. And, yet, I still love him, and this is why.

I have chosen to love him, and I have chosen to make a practice of cultivating loving compassion towards him. This is not the same as claiming any great achievement in this area, so do not let me get above myself. However, when we choose to open our hearts to the world around us, to imaginatively walk in the shoes of others, to hold off on one's judgement of others, or blindness to our own failings, then we can begin to cultivate a loving heart. With age I have grown in the acceptance of the truth of the words of Carl Jung: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”. So, what I dislike about others is often what I dislike when I discover it in myself. What I fear of others is also what I am horrified to find inside me. When I feel disdain for others, it is often because I am frightened of appearing to fail in the ways that they have done. Humility, on the other hand, is the deep acceptance of the truth about myself, and that is never easy.

Developing a compassionate heart is not something one can achieve with a focussed lens. To be more loving is not to have greater love for one small thing, but to love everything more. And, in this instance, Mr Trump has become the object of my compassion. In fact, in the ridiculousness of his muppetry, he has given me the ample gift of the practice of that compassion. In what appears to be the damaged personality of a man who is not at peace with himself or the world around him, I can wish him well, to be whole, to be free.

I love Donald Trump, not because he evokes my love, but because I have chosen to do this, and in the hope that this expands my compassion for all people, in all circumstances, even within the limitations of my meagre and weak heart.

Still think he is an idiot, though.

Nick Bird
your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the September 2020 issue of The Grapevine