The recent presidential election laid bare the ugly fissures that are ripping the nation apart. Far from our stated national vision “out of many, one” (E Pluribus Unum), we are rapidly losing the ability to see the humanity in those from a different political party, economic class, racial group, sexual orientation, or immigrant status than our own. Systemic injustices are rooted in a hierarchy of human value and civil discourse across differences has become a rare commodity.
Between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, as God enables, I plan to engage in a water and juice fast, each day sending an open letter to President Trump, calling on him to act collaboratively with other national leaders for healing justice. The letters will be rooted in the Daily Office texts from President Trump’s Presbyterian faith tradition.
While the divisions and disparities in the country existed long before President Trump took office, he bears unique responsibility in his very public role for setting a positive tone and leading by example. Still, all of us — from the most progressive to the most conservative – are responsible to take concrete steps to heal the national divisions and work for justice for all.
President Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again!” What would it look like to be a great nation? The biblical prophets defined greatness as learning to act justly, love kindness and walk humbly. Jesus spoke of greatness as learning to serve the needs of others –feeding the hungry (including our enemies), visiting the sick and imprisoned, and welcoming the stranger. Many other religious traditions share these same values.
I invite others to join me in this time of prayer and fasting – for a meal, a day, several days or even longer – and to take practical steps, however large or small, toward healing justice.
My daily letters will be posted on “Blog” tag of this site. A special thanks to my son Holden for helping me set up this blog site and to friends, Mohammad Rasoulipour, who designed the site logo, and Ryan Rodrick Beiler and Howard Zehr, who provided a gallery of photos for use with the blog posts.
-J. Daryl Byler
28 February 2017