“I hate Trump. I hate Hillary. I hate I hate I hate.”

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

I don’t often give Facebook credit for very much, except stealing time that I could have used doing something else. But this week I read something my older daughter posted that I want to pass along to you.

One of my daughter’s friends is a teacher of young children – 9 year olds – and lately she has been listening to her children speak in harsh and angry terms, usually about politics. The children will talk about candidates as “scumbags,” “idiots,” and “dirty liars.”

“I have had to help many kids,” she writes, “find different words to use than ‘hate’ – oh, they are using that word so often. I hate Trump. I hate Hillary. I hate Democrats. I hate Republicans. I hate I hate I hate.”

This is primary season in the U.S., and people in Europe – or at least in the small part of Europe where I live – are paying attention, mostly because the political climate in the U.S. this year is so ugly, far uglier than usual, in my experience. A great deal of name-calling is taking place, some violence has broken out in a few places, and so no one, I suppose, should be surprised that this ugliness and nastiness is being heard and then learned by our children.

My daughter’s friend, the one who is a teacher, suddenly realized that she was as guilty as anyone. Her own language had become coarser, harsher, uglier, even filled at times with hatred. And so, she made a commitment to stop, to begin using different language, to model better language and behavior for her children, those in her class and of course those at her home.

I think the reason that this Facebook post affected me so much is that I saw myself in my daughter’s friend. I too have been frustrated this political season. More than once I have wanted to shout back at the television news (and, yes, have given in to the temptation). I even broke a personal rule about no politics on my blog and posted about a candidate with whom I am particularly concerned. I know better. As deeply as I care about my country and the direction it is taking, I know that my behavior affects others. I can’t do much to change things at home, except to send in my absentee ballot, but I can control myself. I can remember what I learned in Sunday school many years ago about other people being created (as I am) in the image and likeness of God. I may find their political views abhorrent – I often do – but I must make sure that my own behavior and my own language match what I profess to believe.

As a Christian, a great deal more is expected of me. I want to give evidence each day of the fruits of the Spirit, evidence that the Spirit is working in me and changing me and making a new creation out of me. I want to exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I do exhibit those qualities, occasionally, but not often enough.

What about you? Have you noticed a change in the way you speak about others? Their political views, the ones with which you disagree so intensely, do not give you the right to belittle them or to treat them as something less than children of God.

I sometimes receive email forwards from church members who must think that I agree with their political point of view. I am included in lists of what must be their like-minded friends. And frankly I am surprised by what I read. The people who send these things always seem so saintly when they are singing the hymns during worship.

Somehow – and I don’t profess to know how to do this – we need to learn a way of speaking and acting that is honest about our beliefs and core values, but that also is fair-minded, loving, and hopes the best for all concerned.

I can do better at that. I hope you will join me in trying.

(Note: I wrote something like the above as the pastor’s letter for my church’s monthly newsletter.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

13 Responses to “I hate Trump. I hate Hillary. I hate I hate I hate.”

  1. Stephen Gardner April 21, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    How true this is Doug. You are not alone as we try to guide our children and ourselves to use the right words and moderate our behaviours to remember how Christ would want us to be. Blessings to You in Zurich from London.

  2. Fred Anderson April 21, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    On target, as usual ; and I believe the only way some healing can come to the mess we are in here — something about removing the beam in my eye before commenting on the speck in yours. Thanks for the good Word.

    • karen parkinson, wheaton April 21, 2016 at 10:57 am #

      WOW, is all I can say. Thank you for the wonderful blog this gloomy morning in Batavia, Illinois. I shared a bit of it with Esther, Keith’s mother. She is always talking about the Fruits of the Spirit. Keith is out of town, when he returns I want him to print the blog out for Esther to read. I will read it over and over. Wish I were in a place to hear your Sermon on Sunday.
      Karen Parkinson, Wheaton

  3. Jürg Kessler April 21, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    Thanks for writing this! I agree completely with what you say! We should be able to agree to disagree in a decent way. The Fruit of the Spirit and James 3 should be mandatory texts for everybody to be known by heart (and to be followed!).-

    • Sally McClintock-Snyder April 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      I cannot agree entirely with your blog.
      First, we have become so politically “correct” in America and everything is acceptable. The “Good Old Boys Club” has done a very poor job of running America. This election and future elections should be won by the will of the people. Hillary will give us more of the same; Trump will make us happy and proud again. Let us all pray for God to lead and direct us in our decisions.

      • Georgia Hamilton April 21, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

        This is really thoughtful, Doug. A reminder to all of us who profess to be Christian that every human being deserves the respect we expect to receive. Thank you for your continued insight to daily living and thinking.

        Geirgia Hamilton

      • Doug April 21, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

        Am not sure which part of my post you disagree with, Sally, but thank you for stating your opinion in civil terms!

      • Catrina Hamilton April 25, 2016 at 11:46 am #

        I don’t think Trump will make all of us happy…and definitely not proud.

        • Sally McClintock-Snyder April 25, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

          Trump will not make all of us happy. No one candidate can make all of us happy. However, most, if not all Americans will be happy again, and we will once again be proud to be an American. God bless America!

        • Catrina Hamilton April 26, 2016 at 7:21 am #

          Granted, no one candidate can make all of us happy and I think you use the term “most” very loosely. I’ve never known an American leader to lead by name calling. I’m sad for Donald Trump and for you

  4. Mark Clousson April 22, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Right on. Thank you for your message.

  5. Heidi Gagnon April 24, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    A great reminder for us all 🙂
    Thank you!

  6. Wendy Sweeney May 14, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    Wonderful words….I can’t always read your blogs when you post them but I find the Lord leads me too them when I have time to really ponder the message he has for me through your words….. love the reminder that we are all his creations ..changing our thought pattern to habitually react in this matter is daily practice because what we blurt out testifies to the condition of our heart I guess that is why God’s word is so detailed on the things we should think on..thanks again for the ministry of your blog. Wendy.