A Letter to My Sons on the Morning After the Election
Jim and Liam,
It's well after midnight and it looks like Donald Trump will be elected president. From where I sit right now, that reality is frightening. I don't think this is the end of the world or that our country will be destroyed though I confess there is a small part of me that worries about that. At the very least I worry about the people in our country who live in the margins and are the most vulnerable.
What is most upsetting to me is that this man said horrible and untrue things about women, immigrants, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, and the disabled throughout his campaign. These things weren't hidden. We all knew about them. He has lied. He has been a bully. And a plurality of this beautiful country I love thought him fit to lead our nation. No parent would want their child to display any of the horrible qualities this man embodies and yet here we are. And many Christians voted for him. Now I want to be clear to you that this doesn't mean all the people who voted for him are racists or hate women. Life is a bit more complicated than that, but that complicity troubles me greatly.
And I'm sad because this is the first president that you'll really know. Jim asked us if we voted for the boy and the girl and we told you we both voted for the girl because we thought she would do the better job of the two. But I'm not upset because the person we picked lost. It's because even though no president is perfect, I wish to God that it could have been somebody else. From what I have seen from this man in the last year plus, there is nothing in him that I want you to emulate. No man should talk about and treat women the way he does. No man should make others look weak to appear strong. No man should value wealth or winning to the detriment of character.
But there is a lesson in all of this: Sometimes bullies win. Sometimes people are mean and hurtful and they get what they want. You need to know this about the world and you need to know this does not change how we live our lives. We do not become bullies and strongmen to defeat the bully. We do not compromise who we are for power or to get what we want. It is my deepest hope that you two come to love and follow Jesus. That you will learn to be like him. That you will learn to love others even if they are horrible. That you will look out for and speak up for those who are bullied, mocked, and demeaned. That you will be humble and brave.
My sons, bullies will win. That does not change a thing for us. We will always love, always trust God, always hope, always persevere. The world needs you to do that. That has become painfully clear to me tonight. I have tried to make it a point this past year to listen to more voices beyond white guys. I have filled up my social media feeds with the voices of minorities, women, LGBTQ individuals. And they're hurting tonight. They are frightened because this man has demeaned them for so long and feel unloved because millions have tacitly signed on to that message. It has made me feel the grave and serious responsibility of being a minister in a new way. It makes me wish I had done more. It makes me wish I could do something to hold my hands against the wounds.
Earlier on Election Day, I wrote that the most important thing people could do was to recommit themselves to the idea that Jesus taught: that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. No matter who they voted for, we have to love each other and remember that we are in this together. I believe that even more now and I promise you, by God's grace, I will do my best to live that out before you two. I want to love others bravely. I will mess up, but I will strive to be what a Christian, a minister, a father, and a man should be. I pray that you two will do that all the more. I love you both more than I could ever say and I am so blessed to be your dad. When I look in your eyes, I see hope. I cannot say how much that means to me right now. Don't ever forget, the world needs each of you to love God and to love others. Nothing will ever change that.