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Dear President Trump:

Yesterday you submitted your “America First” budget to Congress. It calls for a $54 billion increase in military spending and $3 billion for a border wall. But how is this strategic when the biggest threat we face as a nation is our internal divisions?

In today’s Daily Lectionary readings, God challenges the prophet, “see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth…” But, sadly, the people have “made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to turn back.” (Jeremiah 5:2-3) The Epistle reading offers the same refrain: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God…no one who shows kindness…The way of peace they have not known.” (Romans 3:10-12,17) And the psalmist reflects, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3)

These powerful words should shake and humble us all. We are all complicit in the divisions that inhabit our nation. In one way or another, we have all failed to act justly, to seek truth, to show kindness or to work for peace.

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Our Sunday School class recently read the delightful children’s book, “Enemy Pie,” by Derek Munson.  Mr. President, for only $441 million, you could buy a copy of this book for each of the 126 million U.S. households. (Or, for free, you could Tweet the above link to an online reading of the book.) If each household followed the simple advice of this book, it would do more to enhance national security than adding billions to the Pentagon’s budget or building border walls. Indeed, it could be the best deal you ever made!

Author and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins — better known by her pen name bell hooks – has written, “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

Mr. President, address the internal threats by promoting healing justice at home. In this, make America First.

Sincerely,

J. Daryl Byler

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