We enter each day into what Thomas Berry prophesized in his later years would be “a new era of anxiety.” This anxiety has been heightened in ways even he may not have anticipated by the Trump effect.
We are seeing around us now a new order of chaos. Immigrants are faced with deportations that will tear their families apart. Religious organizations are threatened and cemeteries vandalized. The institutions of the government, press, and finance are being destabilized. Our foundational principles of democracy are being threatened.
In some cases, new leaders are going so far as to alter institutions so they oppose their original purpose. For example, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency purposed with protecting against climate change, is himself a climate change denier. Rick Perry, the head of the Department of Energy, wanted to eliminate that department. Jeff Sessions, whose record of racism, sexism, and the denial of civil rights is notorious, is empowered to rule on questions of justice and rights.
At this critical moment, I ask, how can people who were raised as Christians and Catholics stand by and let such chaos occur? How can they allow freedom and democracy to be at risk?
As I see it, the problem is an old worldview that champions death rather than life.
With this worldview, we believe that God created a perfect world, a place of happiness and eternal reward. We see human death and cultural death as doorways to the rapture and eternal bliss. Theology, fairness, justice, and peace have no place in this worldview because they are seen as obstacles to eternal life.
This is not the worldview taught by Jesus. He questioned oppression and advocated for the poor. He invited us to become beatitude people. Perhaps he would caution us not to argue and shout, but rather to listen to and talk with those we oppose. He would ask us to reflect on the principle that the opposition often does the right thing for the wrong reason.
I believe Jesus would find comfort in the peaceful resistance rising up all over the country in response to the Trump effect. We see this in the town halls of elective representatives; in the new movements for justice; and in the actions of those supporting immigrants, Muslims, First Nation’s people, the environment, and more.
Each day, we have a choice. We can hold onto an old worldview or we can let the divine creative energy burst forth in our souls, dissolve all our rigid thoughts, and welcome a future that is filled with zest for life.