5 things to thank Trump for

31 01 2017

It might seem early days to mark a debt of gratitude, but in a spirit of generosity and hope there are several things about this Trump presidency, even after a week like this, to be thankful for.

  1. people suddenly care about refugees
    Following an EU referendum campaign and US election campaign that shamelessly played heavily to fear and xenophobia about refugees, suddenly there are mass protests saying “let them in”. This rebalancing of public opinion – and the reporting of it – is a good thing.
  2. people suddenly care about racism and sexism
    For a long time we have pretended racism and sexism were relics from a bygone era, whilst knowing they really weren’t, especially those of us who are white middle-aged men. After all, we are the least affected. But Trump’s behaviour and policies have forced us to be vocal about challenging both, clearly and confidently, because they are wrong. This is a good thing.
  3. people suddenly care about news bias
    We know the news we read is filtered through a bias all the time, but we conveniently forget. The Trump presidency has highlighted the issue of ‘fake news’, aka lying, propaganda etc…, and made us reassess everything we read. Once we know that whether we read the Daily Mail or the Independent, watch Fox or the BBC, everything is given an angle and we need to switch our brains on. This is a good thing.
  4. people suddenly care what is Christian  
    Huge debates are being sparked in the Christian world, as the ‘evangelical right’ is hijacked by Trump to an extreme even they can’t handle. Old divides are cast aside as Christians stand together to condemn xenophobia and racism, and claim Jesus’ words about love and welcoming the stranger. Can you really claim to be pro-life, yet condemn the living to death? The old ‘moral majority’ are no longer the vocal majority. This is a good thing.
  5. people suddenly agree that some things are just wrong 
    In our increasingly relativist culture people have found it hard to say things other people do are wrong. Live and let live, it’s up to them, everything happens for a reason… Well, thanks to Trump suddenly people are rediscovering a confidence to say some things are just wrong. Claiming to grab female genitals, boasting about sexism, lying, not paying taxes… some things are just wrong, morally, and people are being more confident in saying so. This is a good thing.

I find it hard to agree with much of what Donald Trump says or does. He is not my enemy though, because that language is not helpful; but I have found myself talking about him as if he is, getting enjoyment when things go wrong for him, and feeling self-righteous that I am not like him.

So, I offer these as reminders that whilst we can’t change him, we can change ourselves; that how we behave matters and what we do matters; and if a Trump presidency can raise us from political apathy and despair into a force that challenges oppression in all its forms then let’s celebrate that, even as we check Twitter again.

Because we have all fallen short and need grace, not just him.

93736387_washingtonmarch

The Women’s March. From BBC News, Getty Images 





destroying the arrogance of mans

24 09 2014

Two very different incidences this week revealed the way we men so often accidentally – and not so accidentally – assume and adopt positions of power and dominance that should not be acceptable, but are. The first is the way that Emma Watson gave an excellent speech for #HeForShe about not demeaning and sexualising women, which the Daily Mail reported by reviewing her outfit and the Telegraph used a stock picture of her in a more sexy outfit than the one she actually wore. The second is David Cameron’s ‘She purred down the line…‘ throwaway comment about the Queen’s response to the Scottish referendum result.

Emma Watson then. She takes the mantle, knowing that she will be demeaned for talking about not demeaning; abused for talking about not abusing. Barely has she finished when the repercussions start. Men, we can stop this. To support and uphold and stand by women is a totally and truly and utterly Christian – and human – thing to do. Jesus was touchy about demeaning women. After all, his own mum would have been rejected as he was born a bastard. So he made a beeline for abused and hurting women in order to restore them. To restore them. Not to humiliate them, not to act out some domination fantasy over them, not to replay years of cultural stereotypes over and over again. 

Men, when we join in sexist jokes we are part of this hateful and horrible bullying. When we judge women by what they wear and not what they do we are part of it. When we do that, we show ourselves to be as weak as classroom bullies usually are. To be truly human, to be truly man, is to stand up for women until they are not demeaned, abused, hurt, sexualised and judged. The changes start with us, in our families, homes, workplace, cars, colleges, schools. 

David Cameron. So much to say, but in that throwaway line he revealed a great deal about how men present to the world. Confident, capable, in control. We all know the Queen does not ‘purr’. She may well have been pleased. But she is not a cat. To talk about her as if she is a domesticated animal, and he is the warrior hero rescuing her country from the brink… no, he was desperately relieved, he massively miscalculated, and she is very much above him in the order. But the archetype dominant man cannot have that. So we use language, the way we tell stories, to keep ourselves dominant and in control. 

It’s not just a ‘posh’ thing, though it is easy to attribute some of it to that Etonian, private-school self-confidence in which success is assumed, mistakes are someone else’s problem, and the distance between revealing the pain of our hearts to the world is about 1000 miles. But we see it all over the place. We men will make jokes about our insecurities so that nobody else can, and more often than not will demean someone else in order to cover our own sense of shame. Most of us do not do than in conversations about the Queen. It may be about our wives, the ‘girl’ at work, the woman walking down the street, or what Emma Watson wore whilst giving her speech. 

Men, this matters. Disappearing Page 3 matters. Judging women by appearance matters. Talking disrespectfully about your kids mum matters. Christians must be at the forefront of standing up for this, because Jesus stood up for women outrageously and took the rap for it. It’s not actually about being feminist, it’s about being human.  

See how you can change a conversation, hold in the sexist joke, and say positive things about women around you today.








%d bloggers like this: