August 2, 2016

Make America Hate Again? A Spiritual Perspective on the Presidential Campaigns.

Trump Pence Michelle Obama

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I was told at an early age that there are two things we don’t discuss—politics and religion.

So, I thought, let’s discuss them both.

To be more specific, I would like to explore the spiritual—or religious—message behind both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns. It is no secret that this election will be historic, regardless of whom is elected president of the United States this November. And, I believe that spirituality is a factor for many voters.

Now, please keep in mind: I am not trying to sell you on an idea or convince you to come around to my same way of thinking. In fact, I would love conversations to be started about what the two videos below reveal. To me, they represent the truth.

They were taken the past few weeks at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Regardless if you are a registered Democrat, Republican or Independent, I believe these must be watched, and before you enter the voting booth.

The first video was shot during the Republican National Convention last week, where Donald Trump was chosen as the official Republican nominee. The video includes key speeches by GOP leaders, Trump and his many supporters around the convention.

>>So, what are your first thoughts?

>>In a few words, how would you describe what you just saw?

>>What emotions and motives do you sense from the language used?

Unlike Trump purports to be, I am not your voice, and I am not here to put words in your mouth or convince you of anything. I’d just like to explore some of the things I noticed.

As I take what I know from my Christian upbringing of “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and the importance Jesus himself placed on humility and kindness, I am left in complete shock by what I saw in the above video.

For a political party which prides itself on its strong religious roots and Christian values, there seems to be a major disconnect with this message of fear, anger and indifference.

From the woman in the opening clip wearing a “Trump that Bitch” shirt to an angry mob shouting “Lock her up!”—it is clear to me that the focus is on the hatred of Hillary Clinton rather than how the Republican Party plans to “Make America Great Again.”

I believe the focal point of the campaign is on what is wrong, bad and dangerous in the world. By Trump using his time to discuss “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness” at length, to me, it was one of the darkest nominee speeches I have ever heard. He mentions the word “violence” 11 times and “terrorism” five times, igniting much of the country’s fears, I think.

It’s a fact that the religious vote—specifically, the Evangelical vote—is highly sought after, and nearly 50 percent of conservatives identify with a moderate or higher level of religion.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, does not seem to offer an appeal to the religious, largely Christian voting bloc.

But, why is this so? Despite how you may feel about the mixing of spirituality and politics, it seems to be a major factor in how Americans cast their votes.

And, just like in the political arena, the world of God has many different views and platforms.

Yet, no matter what religion we are or aren’t, there are universal teachings that weave common threads among many major belief systems. It is seen in Bible stories, the Upanishads, the Quran, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, and taught by monks and priests of all denominations. It is the simple concept of love and compassion over hate and intolerance.

As members of the human race, there is the idea that we are all in this together—it is not you and me, but it’s us, all of us: black or white, Muslim or Christian, and so on.

I look no further than the Bible verse from Romans 12:20: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.”  (Odd, I heard repeated demands for waterboarding and deportation instead.)

Before I share the second video, I have another request. I’d like to again invite you not to agree with me, but to ask the same questions we asked of the first video, and that is: What is the tone, message and emotion conveyed?

In my opinion, First Lady Michelle Obama, whether you’re inclined to agree with her or not, gave a beautiful speech that was as intelligent and emotional as it was tactful and inspiring. The focus of fear and destruction was replaced by a focus on love and possibility.

Yes, there were verbal attacks, but they were done with style and grace, not the playground chants we saw in the prior video. The message is one that, I believe, will appeal to those who consider themselves religious, since it offers tolerance and real human compassion—which are also the teachings of Christianity.

We must set aside how we feel about Democrats or Republicans, and facts or figures, and just observe what we see and hear from the candidates and their supporters.

Where do you see love, compassion, inspiration and faith?

Do you side with love, and where do you see hate?

And, which would be better for the world-at-large today?

I have one more Bible verse that will bring this full-circle. It’s from Matthew 14:14: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Once again, it’s not about the condemnation of those who aren’t like us. Rather, it’s about compassion. Every religious teacher and guru I know of speaks on the utmost importance of practicing compassion.

Even though we may see the above behavior as dark and troubling, we are dealing with spiritually sickened people who have been very misguided, I think. That is why we need to practice compassion, empathy and understanding now more than any other time.

Or, in the words of the Dalai Lama, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

So, keep your ears and eyes open, your hearts full of love and compassion and, please, think before you cast a vote in November. If you are not yet registered to vote, you can do so here.



Presidential Election: Happy Fear Games 2016!


Author: Kourtney Mei 

Image: Video Screenshots

Apprentice Editor: Natalia Lusinski; Editor: Travis May

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