Anger is something most, if not all, of us, battle in our lives. Speaking not only for myself but for many others I’ve counseled over the years, I’ve learned that the roots of a lot of our anger can be found in our hurts and fears, our broken dreams, and shattered futures or, at the very least, the fear of these things.
And when the fires of fear are stoked, they often burn uncontrolled, erupting in angry outbursts, which inevitably ruin relationships with others.
Just the other day, a friend shared with me about a relationship ruined because she supports the election of President Trump while her long-time friend despises him.
In my book, Prophets or Patriots: How Evangelicals Are Giving to Caesar What Belongs to God, I share the story of seeing my five-year-old nephew not long after the election of Barack Obama as president.
The first words out of his mouth upon seeing me were, “Do you like Obama? Because if you like Obama, I hate you!”
What causes a five-year-old boy to express such feelings of anger about a difference of opinion regarding who is best qualified to lead our nation? I don’t think it was because of political ideology or particular policies, be they red or blue in color.
The fact is the intense anger we have experienced in our nation since the election of Donald Trump isn’t over these things either.
Here’s what Trump has done that far exceeds any other president in the history of the United States: He has broken all the unwritten rules of courtesy and respect for others, especially those who disagree with him.
In doing this, the leader of our nation, and the free world, has opened pandora’s box of evil and wickedness. People as never before feel emboldened to give vent to the anger and frustration in their lives.
People, as never before, feel emboldened to give vent to the anger and frustrations in their lives.
In one of the earliest “Batman” movies, the Penquin brags, “You got to admit I’ve played this stinking city like a harp from hell.” Our president has, and is, doing the same thing.
Yes, we were a divided nation before the election of Donald Trump.
Yes, policy is important and does often divide and create angry differences among us.
Yes, large portions of the media are laser-focused on finding anything and everything possible to discredit and help speed Trump’s exit from office.
Yes, there is uncalled for violence in many of the protests across our nation.
But laying all these things aside, the real problem is that the president of the United States is giving permission for people to be as nasty as he is. In fact, he is encouraging it.
He is doing what all leaders, good and bad, do; he is leading by example. And both his supporters and those who despise him are following that leadership.
The result is the emotional violence waged in our nation is running wild.
When citizens of our country hear their leader engaging in name calling and crass and belittling remarks about others, even those in his own party who disagree with him, they feel empowered to do the same thing.
Some of the most stalwart conservatives in our nation, men like Jeff Sessions and John Bolton, and many others who left the Trump administration because they could not work for or with their boss, have been targets of some of Trump’s most disparaging remarks and personal attacks.
Proverbs 18:21 warns us, “The tongue has the power of life and death,” and we are witnessing death by words in the lives of people and in the life of our nation in these days.
Is there anyone who can unite us? I don’t know. Honestly, I doubt it.
But here’s what I do know: we should never support any leader who actively promotes division by his or her words or actions.
The first step to overcoming the division and hatred being fueled by a wicked man is to refuse to be provoked by it.
My Trump-supporter friend, who I mentioned earlier, is unique. She is a brilliant, analytical, logic-oriented kind of person. Like many who share her personality type, she seems almost immune to arguments based on emotions.
Very few of us can say that’s true in our lives. I can’t. But what I can do is actively resist the manipulation of my emotions by others.
As a follower of Christ, I will seek to bring healing and peace whenever and wherever I can. That doesn’t mean I won’t anger some people by things I may say and do.
In the opening pages of my book, I acknowledge that I expect some people to be very angry by what I have to say. But I don’t say what I do because I’m angry. I say it because I see what is happening through the leadership of Donald Trump, and as a follower of Jesus, I am deeply troubled by it.
I close with these words from the New Testament book of Romans, chapter twelve, verse eighteen — “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV)