Is it possible to have compassion for President Trump?
Jesus said, according to Luke, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you, . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you . . . Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate" (Luke 6:27-28, 31, 36).
I have been praying that I might feel some compassion, rather than anger and hate toward President Trump and his deluded followers. Yes, he is an evil person who has done much evil.
The description that Paul (or someone writing in the name and tradition of Paul) employs in a rather strange apocalyptic passage in 2 Thessalonians fits the President and his followers quite well: "He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship . . . declaring himself to be God" (2:4). The writer calls this person "the lawless one" (2:3). Those who follow this "lawless one" are imagined as having been deceived by "a powerful delusion," which leads them "to believe what is false" and "to take pleasure in injustice" (2:11-12). Some interpreters believe this was a veiled allusion to Caesar in those years when the followers of Jesus were being persecuted by Rome. Trump fits this depiction quite well.
Trump is evil, but is not evil a kind of deep, soul sickness? He craves power and control the way an alcoholic craves drink. Does anyone believe he is capable of experiencing inner peace or joy?
Maybe the best thing that could happen to him is that when he leaves office New York pursues charges against him and he actually spends time in prison. I am not sure anything could foster repentance, but as the spiritual writer Father Richard Rohr likes to say, it almost always takes some experience of great suffering or great love to break the spell of our false self and ignite positive and redemptive change in our lives. I don't think Trump is in a place where he is capable of experiencing love, so it would take suffering to initiate it. I have my doubts if anything could break through his narcissistic shell.
But this post is not about Trump, it's about me. Can I feel compassion for a man who is hardened and deluded by his narcissism and truly sick in spirit and soul? I think Jesus would. I think Jesus did. Luke attributes Jesus as saying about his torturers and executioners, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
That's a different way of seeing isn't it? Maybe Jesus had enough awareness to see what really is, beneath the little, false self driven by all sorts of negative feelings, emotions, and attitudes, which often reflect how people are programmed by their upbringing and culture.
Maybe I could have some compassion if I could see how Trump actually suffers, how his life is diminished by the sickness of evil that fills his soul. Maybe he really doesn't know what he is doing. It is very possible he believes the conspiracy theories he spouts, as many do who have been brainwashed and programmed by right-wing media.
I honestly don't know if I will ever acquire the spiritual awareness that will actually ignite and fuel compassion for the likes of Trump and his followers. But I can keep praying that I will. For now, that's probably the best I can do.