I’ve spent hours in conversation with people over the past two days who watched the presidential debate and then suffered post-traumatic stress responses. Suddenly, they remembered the terror they felt when their ex-spouse would scream at them. They remembered the frustration when they couldn’t get a word in. They remembered wishing to disappear, make the attacks stop, just placate the bully until they could get away.
Tuesday night, we were assaulted, bullied, and gaslighted by our President. We were subjected to abusive, cruel behavior from someone who is sworn to protect and defend us. Nothing about Tuesday night was ok.
Often in abusive relationships, the person being abused doesn’t realize what is happening to them. The abuse comes upon them gradually. The abusive person is charismatic, even loveable, and says all the right things. He says he knows what’s best for us, he will protect us, we just have to trust him. But, his behavior doesn’t match his words. He hurts us and the people we care about. He speaks harshly. He forces us to accept his agenda. And before we know it, it feels like we can’t escape. Sometimes we get so caught in the drama that we can’t imagine that life without the abuse could be any better.
America, we are in an abusive relationship. It’s time to get out.
We know a different way. As people of faith, we remember the words of 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Our children deserve to see love on display from their national leaders. They deserve to feel secure, supported, and comforted. They deserve better than what we have endured for the last four years.
Our friends at the Franciscan Action Network do such great work reminding all of us of what it means to walk the Way of Love.
When you have a moment, watch this latest message about Compassion and consider the kind of world we wish for our children, if not for ourselves.
We are in this together,