To what shall we compare thee Donald Trump?
I’ve only ever written one Donald Trump blog before and I chose not to publish it. I came to the conclusion I should pray for him not judge him. One thing you can’t do is ignore him.
The past few days have seen an extraordinary meeting of the G7 world leaders. There’s no interpretation or judgement needed to say the rest of the leaders fell out with Trump because they’ve all said so. What’s clear is that Trump always wants his own way. He is the most powerful man in the world’s powerful nation, which he has pledged to put first. His modus operandi appears to be to turn America into a global bully to further what he considers to be in the nation’s interests.
In many ways Donald Trump feels like a driver of a 4×4 who chooses to drive down the middle of the road. Their message is clear – ‘you need to get out of the way, my car is bigger than yours’. I guess this works until two 4×4’s drive down the middle of the road towards each other.
All of this sums up a particular view of life – that it is fundamentally a competition – the grim idea of the survival of the fittest. In this view we are pitted against each other to fight for scarce resources. Trump is battling for the US economy to be on top. For us we may find ourselves battling for jobs, partners, houses, school places, parking spots, eBay purchases, Facebook likes.
It’s exhausting even thinking about it isn’t it? It’s no surprise to me that young people growing up in the glare of social media with uncertain job prospects are increasingly struggling with their mental health.
My question is an obvious one – does it have to be this way?
A counterview to the idea that life is an inevitable battle for scarce resources is to suggest that on the contrary there is enough for everyone.
Food is the most obvious example. There are still millions who don’t have enough to eat while the West battles an obesity epidemic. There’s enough food to feed everyone but because of greed it’s not shared out in a way in a way that enables that to happen 1.
With a co-operative view of life surely as well as food there’s also enough room for everyone to have somewhere to live and a way for everyone to find something meaningful to do. I’m not saying this is easy but we can choose a mind-set that is about building communities where everyone is able to find place, purpose and provision.
We are pretty inspired by our neighbours, Al and Jo. They are super ethical in the way they live and incredibly generous on a personal level. I am very blessed to work with lovely people so the other day when I arrived back from a meeting stressed and promptly dropped my laptop on the floor, one of my colleagues calmly responded by making me a cup of tea and handing me a cherry bakewell. It’s not that there aren’t lots of lovely people around but it can feel like brief respite from a pretty brutal world.
We can blame this on the culture we live in but if I’m being honest I know I have to look closer to home. At times I can feel myself getting annoyed by busy traffic or shops inconveniently filled with other shoppers and I have to remind myself that they have just as much right to be there as I do.
So what can we do to break the ‘me first’ cycle? 3 quick thoughts:
- Be thankful. Every Sunday our church make us to stop and give thanks for what we have. As an antidote to a world that always wants more, being thankful and content is a great place to start
- Be aware of our impact. I often quote the phrase that we should think of ourselves as producers and not consumers. I believe I have a responsibility to use what I have well and to think about the impact my choices and behaviour have. This can be simple things like us starting to shop at our local zero waste shop 2. It also means pausing when the urge to consume strikes to question whether we need it, particularly if it involves spending money we don’t have
- Be open. In Psalm 51, David asks God to create a new heart in him 3. Can we change and can our instincts? I know some people don’t believe people can change but I do. I’ve needed to – ask my wife! The fact that our marriage is stronger than ever after nearly 18 years is because of the work God has done in us both.
All of this challenges our pride. I’ll leave the last word with the writer of my Bible notes, which very handily addressed this today:
‘Proud or thankful?’
What’s the problem with pride? Biblical writers unanimously condemn pride because it promotes an illusion of self-sufficiency. It discounts grace; it ignores God’s hand; it strangles thankfulness. Maybe today you can humbly write out a quick ‘Thanks’ list or just a few things God has done for you’