Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
e has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Today is Veteran's Day. The origins of this day and observance coincide with Armistice Day in Europe, a day commemorating the end of World War I "on the 11
th day in the 11
thmonth at the 11
th hour." This day honors all those persons who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time - in peace or during wartime. It is a day to acknowledge and give thanks for their sacrifice and service.
Day should remind us all that those who have served still merit our attention, respect, and care.
Homelessness, addiction, and mental illness continue to plague many who have served. As a nation we can and should do better by our
. We should be mindful of this more than once a year, but
's Day is an important reminder that we have a continuing obligation to those who have served faithfully and often at great personal cost.
Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. For some in the Diocese of New Jersey, this is cause for celebration; for others it is cause for despair. There are those who feel Mr. Trump's election represents a much-needed change in this country; that he lifts out of silence the
Others believe his election represents the triumph of racism, xenophobia and misogyny.
, the President-elect said, "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, [we] have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."
This will not be easy to accomplish.
"I'm living in terror now," a young African-American woman said to a small group of us on Tuesday night as we sat together watching the election results. It had become pretty clear that Mr. Trump was going to win the presidency. "I'm the only black person in this room, I want you to know his election terrifies me." She is not alone.
As I watched television and scanned social media, many people were clear in expressing their satisfaction at the election results. Others shared more troubling sentiments. Fear and terror were expressed across a wide spectrum: by people of color, undocumented workers, women who feel their reproductive rights and other rights are in jeopardy; LGBTQ persons fearful that hard won marriage equality and other rights will be forfeited; Muslims who are now targets of unfettered Islamophobia; people concerned about the environment, refugees who fled horrifying conditions of war and poverty and many others.
If this nation is to experience healing as the President-elect seems to desire, he will need to understand the terror and fear of those for whom he has thus far shown little concern or empathy. Hearing their fears, their terror, is essential for binding the wounds he speaks of in his victory speech. We are a divided country. Mr. Trump didn't even win a majority of
the popular vote.
Federalist Paper #51
, James Madison observed, "It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure." Madison's prescription for preventing a "tyranny of the majority," was to advocate for a complex federal government with independent branches - "checks and balances." In this election, all three branches of government have been ceded to one party thus imperiling minority rights and this nation's historic concern for all people.
I agree that significant portions of our population have been forgotten as both political parties allowed themselves to be coopted by special interests, Wall Street and big business. Among the forgotten have been white working-class men, many of whom have suffered as a result of globalization and the export of manufacturing jobs to countries where labor is cheaper. Their pain and suffering have gone unheard, at least until now. Mr. Trump has promised to address their concerns. That, I feel sure, is a good thing. But they are not alone.
For example, black men have been treated far more oppressively in this country. The so-called "war on drugs," - a "law and order" effort targeting black communities and creating mass-incarceration - has resulted in an expansive
"New Jim Crow."
Huge numbers of black voters, mostly men, have been systemically disenfranchised as a result. When Mr. Trump said in his victory speech, "
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer," I hope and pray he is including them in his list of the forgotten and that he intends to work to restore their rights and dignity.
In post-election comments to the nation,
called upon Americans to root for Mr. Trump's success. In her concession speech,
stated her hope that Mr. Trump will be "a successful president for all Americans" and urged that all "owe him an open mind and a chance to lead."
I agree with and support these sentiments. As Americans, we have a vested interest in Mr. Trump being a successful president for all. This election makes clear, however, our need to engage in rigorous dialogue and action to determine the definition of "success." As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I feel compelled to stand in this moment with those who are frightened and afraid: with that young African-American woman who shared her terror with me on election night; with the poor who are always the forgotten of our society; with people of color who feel we are marching backwards on hard won rights and respect, with women who are feeling vulnerable because of the degradation and abuse they have been forced to endure in this election cycle; with brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith who are feeling unfairly targeted; with LGBTQ persons whose rights are threatened by the dominance of the religious right, with other marginalized persons who feel they have lost their voice and power as a result of this election.
Our Baptismal Covenant calls upon us all to seek and serve Christ in all persons loving our neighbor as ourselves; to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being (See Book of Common Prayer, p. 304-05). These are demands that brook no compromise. They point me, and us, to the ministry of reconciliation (BCP, p. 855) and to the means of healing our nation. Fulfilling these promises is how I understand success for Mr. Trump as president of our broken and wounded country. Fulfilling these promises is how I personally plan to work at healing and reconciliation the next four years. I urge you to do the same.
May God bless you and keep you.