Robert Fulghum was right--"all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten." Ministering in the jails and drug treament center has taught me all about human behavior. You learn more about people at the foot of lack than you would ever apprehend at the top of the totem pole.
The majority of us do not subscribe to the Mr. Spock way of thinking and the Vulcan way of life. (Star Trek fans will understand.) Rarely do people make sound, rational, spiritual, logical, reasonable decisions. They are governed mainly by fear and emotional responses. Donald Trump seems to know this instinctively. However recent events may be highlighting this truism of life--"you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
As the election recedes in our rear view mirror, here are some lessons that I have learned.
Poor and disadvantaged people address needs before values. For them, conservative Supreme Court Justices, the overturning of Roe Vs Wade and restrictions of homosexual rights, while important in the intellectual theological sphere of the affluent suburbs, are nebulous abstract concerns in the "hood.” They are more concerned about putting food on the table, making an extra buck an hour and being able to survive to do it. Do you think on Chicago's embattled South Side they are wringing their hands about the appointment of the next Supreme Court Justice?
Does anybody remember Philando Castile, black cafeteria supervisor, killed by police in July 2016?
Between July 2002 and his death in July 2016, Philando Castile was stopped by police at least 46 times. Some traffic stops kicked off months- and years-long spirals of fines, driver’s license suspensions and more traffic stops that Castile would eventually pay off or settle in court. He was most often cited for driving on a suspended license or lacking proof of insurance.
People forget that making a living and staying alive are vitally, supremely, important priorities to every human being.
If you are dead, it does not matter how you think, feel or would vote on any particular issue.
For the Black, Jewish and Latino voter, the Democratic candidate offers him or her the best chance to stay alive with his stance on gun control, healthcare and wage increases.
A reporter asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "How do you explain Donald Trump's behavior to your children?" She replied, "Nobody's perfect and I point them to Jesus Christ who is perfect."
Indeed no ethical religious person can say with a straight face and firm conviction that Trump is an example of desired human behavior, let alone a paragon of Christian decorum.
In effect, she was declaring that white evangelicals were willing, for the sake of political expediency, to support Donald Trump. His intentions to appoint Conservative Supreme Court justices, desire to overturn Roe v Wade, and limit homosexual expression, would override their concerns about endorsing a flawed, diminished man with no discernible evidence of a spiritual relationship.
Despite their protests, prophecies and revelations, this is simply a matter of sacrificing and forsaking one principle for what they consider a higher principle. There is nothing spiritual about a political transaction in an arena best described by the late Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon as, "politics are not made for men of principle."
Come on people, can you imagine Donald Trump, like Paul the Apostle, telling a group of committed Christians, "Follow me as I follow Jesus?"
Dear reader, tell me or email me, is there anything resident in Donald Trump that is reminiscent --not of Jesus Christ-- but of the long suffering servant like Moses, Job or Jeremiah? Despite the ominous warnings of evangelist Mario Murillo, Trump is not a divine pause on the spiritual clock ticking down to midnight and the age of man.
Conversely, some white evangelical pastors express dismay, confusion as to how black and Jewish spiritual voters flock to Democratic candidates who vocally support abortion and homosexual behavior.
Neither is it a sound moral decision rooted and grounded in supposed spiritual ethics. It is also called political expediency. (ditto for all Christians who supported Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama)
Perhaps it may be time for all honest men to tell the truth and shame the devil. Anytime we enter the voting booth, all of us are in effect choosing the lesser of two evils, based on our experiences and pressing needs. We need to stop castigating each other, assuming that we alone are traveling the moral and spiritual high ground. Some people like Trump are prone to hyperbole, always spouting dire predictions and devastating consequences if you do not believe or support their position. (Remember 1999 and the horrific upcoming Millennium Bug of 2000 espoused by many evangelical preachers?)
God's word is forever settled in heaven, and nothing we mark on a ballot is going to alter, thwart or delay that inexorable march to the tribulation. Politics, like serving on a jury, are not a sign or exercise in spirituality, but a secular civic duty. The best we can do or hope for when we cast a vote is, that the candidate going forward, will fulfill or pass into law measures that will address our most important needs or concerns at that particular moment in time.
Any casual student of the Torah or the Bible would understand that murder and homosexual behavior are against the expressed laws of God. However no matter how much emphasis is placed on them nowadays, they are not the only sins that can endanger your relationship with your God
Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans (including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney) during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C.
A gunman tore into a Pittsburgh synagogue shouting "All Jews must die!”
In Charlottesville, the President of the United States stated there were fine people on both sides of the demonstration where Heather Heyer was killed and Deandre Harris was beaten to within inches of his life by two white men. Overheard were white supremacists shouting," blood and soil and Jews will not replace us." For many Jews that statement brought back to memory those dark days of the Holocaust. Indeed, that horrific moment in history is so seared in the Jewish psyche that it is said and believed, "this generation has no moral right to forgive what happened during that time."
Consider the incredible first reaction of newly elected Senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, as we search for answers about the (white, male) shooter in the Thousand Oaks massacre -- the most important thing, now, is to "protect the Second Amendment."
A black man was killed in his own apartment by a white police officer who apparently entered the home by mistake.
Killing a man takes away all opportunity to engage in a theoretical discussion to convince him to see things your way or offer a reasonable explanation for his thoughts and actions.
When you set up roadblocks to prevent him from progressing, he is not inclined to see things your way, as hunger pains of want and access are overwhelming his logic and spiritual reasoning.
White ministers are too concerned with the unborn and the right to own a gun than the rights of those already born, those who are living on the fringes and in the crosshairs of a gun-crazy society.
A living dog is better than a dead lion and one must be concerned about issues that will ensure that you remain around, to arrive alive, to debate an argument.
A case in point is Sherrod Brown of Ohio who won re-election in a conservative leaning state that went for Trump in 2016. Pro-LGBTQ, pro-abortion rights, pro-gun control, and pro-criminal justice reform, he was the first senator to oppose Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general.
Instead, Brown keeps winning in Ohio because he has spent his entire career obsessing, first and foremost, over the concerns of workers.
Not just white workers, the way Trump did in 2016. "All Workers."
Yes, we should be concerned about the sins of abortion and homosexuality but staying alive and healthy with your head above water will always "TRUMP” that.
V. Knowles is a husband, father and prison minister with an interest in penning issues that serve to uplift mankind. He melds his love for Classic literature, The Bible and pop culture - as sordid as it may be - into highly relatable columns of truth, faith and justice. Hence the name: Just Thinking. If he's not buried in a book or penning his next column, you may find him pinned to his sectional watching a good old Country and Western flick. He is also the co-author of HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant