Dear President Trump:
The Daily Lectionary readings are about choices. Moses offers the people a choice – a blessing or a curse — depending on whether they walk in God’s ways. (Deut. 11:18-28) The psalmist chooses to take refuge in God, even when he feels that God has abandoned him. (Psalm 43:2) In the Gospel reading, Jesus chooses to walk through Samaria – “enemy territory” that many Jews bypassed; he breaks with cultural norms by engaging in conversation with a Samaritan woman. The woman chooses the “living water” that Jesus offers her. (John 4:1-26)
Mr. President, I can only imagine the number of big choices that confront you each day. I urge you to make choices that prioritize human security and healing justice.
- Choose policies and programs that empower and give voice to the most vulnerable. James Weldon Johnson once said, “This country can have no more democracy than it accords and guarantees to the humblest and weakest citizen.” And Marian Wright Edelman wisely notes: “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”
- Choose to address the root causes of the divisions in this country. We are still experiencing the legacy of how this nation was founded: by displacing Native Americans and by using African-American slave labor. To displace and subjugate required creating narratives that these communities were less than fully human. Those biases created a hierarchy of human value that persists today and contribute to well-documented discrimination in access to health care and housing, in our criminal justice system, and school suspension rates – to name just a few. Median household incomes and wealth disparities are another effect of this history. For every $1 of income in White households, Black households have only 59 cents. And for every $1 of wealth (net worth) in White households, Black households have only 6 cents.
Choose human security and healing justice and you will make America truly great — not again, but for the first time.
J. Daryl Byler