I’m a big fan of audio books, and I get many of them from Audible. They have a book of the day at a very reduced cost, and they recently offered a book taken from the “diaries” of the children of a U.S. president.
Normally, I wouldn’t necessarily like this kind of thing because I’d think it was going to be some overdone, sickly sweet family goo. But this one promised some genuine and honest memories. I was intrigued because I have long held a gentler place in my heart for people who are family members of celebrities, politicians and others of notoriety. Not just because they live a life of constant exposure, but also because they are subject to the knee-jerk, non-compassionate responses of others to the actions, politics or opinions of the person who is famous.
It would be hard to be a 10-year-old girl or boy and see horrible headlines in the latest tabloid at the checkout area of a grocery store.
I also wanted to try a little experiment on myself. This happened to be a president whom I did not support and who was often generally ridiculed for verbal gaffes and other public goof-ups. And I’m sure in my head, I celebrated some of these, even without bad intention. So I wanted to see if maybe my opinion of him would change as I saw his world, his humanity and his burden of responsibility through others’ eyes. It did. Even these several years later.
He became a person and not a target.
This scared me a little. I like to think of myself as a loving and forgiving child of God. But I am realizing that while it’s easy to be that way with people I know and with whom I come into contact, it is just as easy to make those whom I don’t know but only hear about on the news or social media into depersonalized scapegoats for all the bad things happening in this country and in the world.
And I suspect that you, reader, are not sitting too far from me in that boat, no matter your political inclination.
So for myself, I have no plans to water down my political opinions or inclinations. But I do want to try to integrate humanity into how I perceive and judge the actions of those in the wider world around us, those with whom I do not have any kind of tangible relationship or connection, but whose actions impact this country and our world.
It is they whom we might most vilify for their perceived actions, opinions or verbalizations. But we don’t know their thoughts, hearts, life story, or loves ... or lack of them. And they are still God’s children. And so are we.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love you neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” Matthew 5:43-46.
The Rev. Mary Norton is pastor of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Corry.