Honestly Thinking

Honestly thinking (& rethinking) about God, the universe, and everything in between

Trump, Hiroshima, and the Casualties of Politics

On Aug 6, 1945, a U.S. B-29 plane, under the authorization of President Harry S. Truman, dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, followed by a second one, Aug 9, on the city of Nagasaki. This action was credited with causing the surrender of Japanese forces, effectively ending World War II.

Some estimates place the death toll from the bombings upwards of 100,000 people, mostly civilians (including children). Add in the number of injuries and the numbers rise to over 200,000 casualties.victim_of_hiroshima_atomic_bombing_3

Since then, the bombings have been the subject of great moral debate as to whether such an action was necessary and worth the cost in casualties. Proponents then and now have argued that it avoided a prolonged battle with an enemy committed to fighting “to the bitter end” – which, in turn, would have cost a projected “half a million American lives and many more that number in wounded” as well as an equal number or more of Japanese lives.

In his public address, President Truman stated, ““Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

In addition, many supporters have argued that the brute force of the bomb served as a demonstration to the Soviet Union, consequently keeping them in check for years to comes and saving potentially millions more lives.

Today, a different kind of war is taking place on actual U.S. soil – what has often been called the “culture wars.” Now, while I do not pretend that what is going on here even compares to the tragic loss of lives in physical war, it must be admitted there are still costs.

For politics, like war, is dirty…and people get hurt.

Consequently, amidst all the politicking arose another great moral debate.Faced with the prospects of either selecting a vitriolic person of questionable character to lead the country or continuing to battle against a political enemy whom they saw as destructive to our future, conservatives and many independents were forced to make a difficult choice.trump-vs-clinton

In the end, the majority decided the former was worth the cost.

Thus, on November 8, 2016 a bomb was dropped on half our population…

…a bomb known as President-elect Trump.

Many involved in supporting this bomb certainly knew the problems with resorting to such an option. In his article “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice,” respected theologian Wayne Grudem admits concerning Trump:

“He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash….Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages.”

But, like President Truman in his justification for use of the atom bomb, Grudem goes on to list the attacks and damage the liberal agenda has done to the country in recent years and the continued devastating consequences of a Hillary presidency, including “unaccountable judicial tyranny” and (notice the similarities to Truman’s argument here):

“…abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death…”

In other words, despite the potential for some of the casualties of politics, the Trump bomb – like the atom bomb – was necessary for saving thousands of young lives.

Now exactly what do I mean by “casualties” in this instance? It is obviously different than the loss of life and limb usually associated with war.

What I am referring to is what I call “messaging.” In any communication there is a sender, receiver and a message to be sent. However, often the message received can be radically different, or can have a more volatile effect, than the message intended. The phrase, “You thought you were tossing a pebble but you threw a boulder instead” comes to mind.

Often such casualties occur in the articulation of ideals, values, and “truths” – where the intended expression of that value has an entirely different meaning to the ones hearing it. Many times this occurs because of the different backgrounds and experiences of both the sender and receiver. Other times it occurs because the actual actions of the sender do not seem to match up with the value communicated – in which case we often use the word “hypocrisy.”

Still, other times the messages go much deeper than that. What people do not realize is that in almost every single interaction (whether in person, on the phone, over social media, etc.) there is almost always a series of questions subconsciously being asked by every individual.

Those questions are ones like, “Am I valued?”, “Do I matter?”, “Am I worth it?”, “Do you accept me?”, “Can I trust you?” or “Am I safe?” And at the root of every one of these is the question, “Am I favored?” This is the question that sits at the core of every being.

It’s there when your boss tells you whether you got the promotion. It’s there when your spouse tells you how you look in your new outfit. It’s there when your child cries for attention. It’s there when anyone clicks “like” on your Facebook post, and it’s there after you and a friend have gotten in a fight.

It’s even there in politics when people are really asking, “Do you value my ideas?”, “Are the things important to me important to you?” and “Do I even have a place here?”

Unfortunately, all too often the questions we think we are answering are not the questions being asked and we miss it entirely.

Because these questions relate to the root of your being, the wounds go very deep, and the answer to your most core question, “Am I favored?” is often a resounding, “NO!”

In this case, you thought you were tossing a pebble, but you threw a hand grenade instead.

And wounded people either retreat or bite back…and the cycle continues.

Watching the news or looking on social media, it does not take long to see there are a lot of wounded people. This is especially true after the recent presidential election.

Whether the Trump bomb was worth the cost is up for debate and may not be discernible for at least another four years or more. Despite reservations I have expressed in the past, it may very well turn out to be the better choice and ultimately for the greater good. I will not even attempt to debate that here.

However, upon a closer look, we must understand there were casualties, nonetheless.

And like in war, where casualties are expected and often an accepted fact, if those who win do not at least pause to soberly reflect on some of the damage done, they have lost something of themselves.

Thus, to my fellow conservatives, here is a brief list of some of the recent questions asked, the answers given and the casualties inflicted:

 

The worth of a girl. Most any female knows that from early on they are constantly bombarded with false messages of their worth. From TV commercials to magazines to cat calls and inappropriate gestures from males they often receive the message that their value rests in their sexuality and appearance.

This becomes even further complicated because religious norms often simultaneously express that their worth is in their purity. When a female is horrifyingly subjected to sexual assault, which touches on both sexuality and purity, it inflicts wounds of self-worth that for many last a life time.

Because of some of Trump’s past behaviors and words there were already questions about him that touched the nerves related to a female’s worth. When the audio tape of his words was released it opened up fresh wounds for assault victims.Trump bus

And when the verbiage was quickly dismissed as “locker room talk” and the reputations of women who came forward were immediately attacked, it brought out those old familiar refrains: that you shouldn’t be upset at “boys just being boys” and if assaulted it’s better to be quiet.

On top of this, many young girls began looking to their fathers to see how they responded.

No father, if their daughter called saying she had just been raped, would choose to ignore it because he was too busy at the time and needed to attend something more important like a pro-life rally or a religious liberty forum. Yet, that was exactly the message that was sent when many women and girls cried out from their wounds but were quickly silenced because electing Trump was too important.

Was electing Trump that important for saving babies? Perhaps, but we need to understand the casualties inflicted. The irony is that if girls and women knew their true worth, how much that might help in reducing the problem in the first place.

The question asked from young girls and women: “Do I have any worth?” The answer emphatically, “No!”

 

A place for women in the world. Many women looked forward to having the potential of the first female president. After years of struggle and adversity, they had come so far in this world, though there was still so much to go, and the presidency became symbolic of the ultimate “glass ceiling.”

It is hard for men to ascertain just how important this was. Many women reminisced about their mothers who longed for this day and used it as an opportunity to tell their daughters, “See you truly now CAN become anything!”

The gender, race or potential historicity of the moment should not put anyone under the obligation of voting for a particular candidate – especially if there are legitimate reasons for questioning that person’s qualifications or policy. However, those who voted against her need to understand exactly why many women are hurting so much, especially after a campaign that so dramatically vilified the first female candidate – and especially after she lost against a male who became symbolic of the ultimate in misogyny.

The questions asked: “Is there a place for me as a woman in this world?” The answer for the thousandth time, “No.”

 

Lives that matter. Many have argued that Trump is not actually racist or bigoted, but when you are talking about casualties it’s irrelevant – because casualties are not just about intended targets but also the wounding of innocents. The intended targets might be legitimate terrorists, illegal immigrants, and even insuring religious freedom and a return to the good ol’ days of better economic times, but the fire and shrapnel from any bomb can extend the damage to a wider perimeter.

While no candidate can ultimately control everyone that supports them, you must understand there is a reason that Trump’s language has resonated so well with racist groups and real bigots. There’s a reason so many minorities and other marginalized groups are so worried and scared. kkk_night_rally_in_chicago_c1920_cph-3b12355The words that Trump used resonated so close to the old familiar code phrases used over the years by actual hate groups – the kinds of words that have menaced minority groups for so many years and bring up many painful memories.

And like the sound of “tick-tock” to Captain Hook or a husband’s even innocently intended touch upon a formerly abused wife, it sends shudders down their spines.

Once encased in code phrases, then other words have new meaning as well. Thus, when Trump says “terrorist” some hear “every Muslim.” When he yells “immigrant” others hear “brown skin” or “Mexican.” When supporters cry “biblical values” some hear “bullying” and “gay camps.” When the campaign cries “great again” others hear “back in the days of segregation.”

And when the after-election polling comes out that the majority of white-evangelical America voted “against them,” it confirmed all their long-felt fears.

Add to this the after-effects of radiation comprised from the makeup of the bomb. The campaigns in the “war” were built off of anger and fear, and now we are starting to see some of the residue – from stories of little girls afraid now to wear their hijabs in public to bullies telling American-born Hispanics to “go home.” We have scared the children and now they’re living out of fear themselves.

The questions asked? “Am I safe?” “Do I matter?” The answer – the old familiar “No.”

 

Character that counts. All of our lives we’ve been taught character matters. It matters in everything you do. It’s who you are in public and who you are when no one’s looking, and the one thing that no one can take away. But I’m afraid character took a serious blow this time around when so many declared it doesn’t matter in this case.

In fact, the new message received seems to be that character only now matters if you’re a pastor or a priest. If you’re not, you can do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The great irony is that some of this new declaration’s most ardent proclaimers were character’s strongest defenders of the past. There are literally side by side examples of the same leaders once calling into question a person’s ability to lead because of lack of character now stating it doesn’t matter.

The other irony is that a sign of good character is consistency, because consistency builds trust. While it may be that character had to be tabled to win the war, there’s no doubt that “character” took a big hit. It will be hard from now on to bring character back out.

The answer to “Does character matter?” is now “No;” and the answer to any followers and our children of “Can I trust you?” is an equally sad “Not at all.”

 

The importance of truth. This election cycle was full of distortion, gossip and conspiracy theories from both sides, and it wasn’t just the candidates that joined the fray. From passing on unsubstantiated rumors to posting and sharing exaggerations and outright lies, everyone jumped on social media in an attempt to help deliver the bomb.hillary-alien

Once again this was something our sons and daughters were watching to see if we would hold our candidates accountable. But while we were quick to point out the other candidate’s lies, when it came to our own, even conservatives joined the truth is relative train.

In terms of casualties, truth was burned to the ground.

“Must we always be truthful?” “Not today.”

 

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible. It’s no secret that there was a lot of division within both parties. Of course, part of Trump’s intentions was to bring a “wrecking ball.” But party unity wasn’t the only thing that has been wrecked.

Stories of people “unfriending” each other on the web abound, and there are even family relationships needing to be on the mend. But one of the most disheartening are some of the divisions within the church.

From calling each other things like “Pharisees,” “baby-killers,” “bigots” and even “unchristian” it seems like the church became the opposite of what Jesus wanted.

Some resorted to even outright character assassination. Both pastor Max Lucado, who had merely expressed his concerns early in the primaries about Trump’s messaging, and Bible teacher Beth Moore, who dared to speak up about the messages being said about a girl’s worth, became the victims of a vicious and intentional distortion campaign.lucadomoore

Just as the U.S. and Japanese governments actively sought to keep information quiet regarding the number of casualties from the atom bombs, several Christians aggressively began a silencing campaign as they publicly spread false information about Lucado and Moore, implying the two were currently and actively campaigning against Trump in favor of Hillary and insinuating they supported killing babies.

The result was a public lashing on social media with many promising to never buy their books or listen to their teachings again.

Better to let a few fellow Christians get hurt (even if it means a few distortions) then to let the truth about any of the casualties get out and risk the potential of the bomb being dropped.

Unfortunately, just as the government’s silencing campaign caused more casualties because people were unable to get help, the election silencing campaign resulted in more wounded Christians like Lucado, Moore and others.

Many of these relationships may take a long time to mend.

This is not to mention the damage done by a world watching a divided and compromised church.

Question: “Can the world know we are Christians by our love?” The answer is obvious.

 

None of this is to say that those on the Left should not also take a sober look at their part in what happened as well. Many on the Right feel that the past eight years has been nothing but an unfair and sustained attack against some of the values they most endure – a sort of Pearl Harbor attack against their homeland. Progressives owe it to themselves and to others to self-reflect regarding the messaging they had been sending…which in turn awoke a sleeping giant.

Many of you may be familiar with my article written before the GOP primaries, titled “If You Are a Trump Supporter These Are the 9 Things I Assume About You.” It is not lost on me that, in my attempt to address the problems, I was guilty of my own messaging, too. I ended up insulting a whole segment of the population because I failed to take the time first to truly understand the real questions they were asking.

At the same time, while realizing I risked getting pushback for the word, I used the word “assume” very intentionally. I wanted Trump supporters to be aware of the potential casualties of the weapon they were advocating for, knowing what others would assume because of the messaging. The emotional responses by many after the election have shown this to be true.

In the article I stated that I would not be able to vote for either Trump or Hillary. I maintained that commitment by voting for a write-in. While on one hand, I did not want to vote for Hillary because I could not support continued attacks on much our country’s safe harbor, on the other hand, just as there was opposition within the ranks of those who created the atom bomb, I was not comfortable with the nuclear option. I would much rather have sustained a long hard-fought battle at risk to me and my fellow conservatives than seen the immediate casualties I’ve listed.

Now that the bomb has been dropped, I hope for everyone’s sake I was wrong. But we owe it to ourselves to self-reflect – because a nation who’s been at war that doesn’t soberly look at the casualties it helped cause is a nation that’s lost its soul.

Of note is the fact that Japan has never again taken an aggressive military stance and neither the U.S., nor any nation, has ever again used a nuclear bomb in war. After rebuilding, Japan and the U.S. also enjoy good relations today.

Perhaps we as a nation, after we take a good hard look at the things we have done, will elect to never use such political “war” tactics again.

Safe harbor was attacked, a bomb was dropped, and people got hurt. Time to heal our wounded, unite and rebuild.

Your honest opinions are valuable to me.  Please share with me your thoughts in the comments section below.  Also, if you enjoyed this article and would like to receive future updates, please sign up for my newsletter below or like me on Facebook.

11 Comments

  1. If you don't know, look it up

    November 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I am sure you mean well, but what you want is not possible. Those of us who are not white, or not Christian, not heterosexual, or not male know very well that we need be more than merely worried and scared that something MAY happen to us. The bottom line is that anyone in this country who advocates shattering Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms for ALL and substituting their own personal version of a One True Way forcibly imposed on everyone else destroys the bedrock upon which we are built. You are free to be a Christian; if you do not stand up and support my right to be other than a Christian it may not make you a bad Christian but it will make you complicit in any action to toss out freedom of religion for EVERYONE and thus destroy America. The same is true of all those freedoms. When they are not applied to ALL citizens, but only to some, the Constitution is damaged or destroyed and the country is no longer America. It is not possible to heal the wounds and unite the country when half or more of it is fully aware that they have been dumped back into the age of oppression and actions rooted in convictions such as “All blacks are stupid”, “all women want it”, and the like including the modern racist/religionist version “All Muslims are terrorists”. Perhaps you have not personally witnessed or experienced the beginning of this evil; but I have. I am a veteran of the US armed forces, and we just had the day when people are supposed to let veterans know they’re grateful for their service, but though only one person said that during the Nov 10-12 period quite a few WHO KNEW I AM A VETERAN made it a point to gloatingly inform me that (for example) “You filthy libtard Clinton supporter, it’s OUR democracy now, and you better watch out! When we deport the illegals and the Allah-lovers, we’ll stick you on the boat too if you don’t convert and start acting like a God-fearing moral conservative!” Add in comments about stupid, criminal, drugusing African Americans who think they should live on the backs of the real Americans, because “Obozo” “tricked his way into the White House” and talk of how he should be dragged out of it and shot in the street as a traitor. Add similar vicious talk about every other group Trump and his supporters targeted at any time this past year. Steve, it’s nothing new for me. I am white, and I have been labeled a race traitor and a Satan-spawn among other choice ugliness in the past for speaking up against those who would destroy our guaranteed freedoms by denying them to some segment of the population for reasons of racism, religion, political party, sexual orientation, and on and on and ON. But I am older and have multiple physical problems now, and I am no longer very capable of defending myself against physical violence should the need arise. So tell me, Steve, do I stop speaking out? Do I refuse to wear the safetypin to let those being threatened know they are safe with me and I will stick up for them to the best of my ability? Do I pretend to be so unAmerican as to destroy the Constitution I swore an oath to protect and defend against ALL enemies, both foreign and domestic? Do I break my freely given word to do that, and keep silent?

    The bottom line is that Trump is not either qualified nor stable, and Clinton while not perfect is not only both but also is innocent of almost all of the trash talk lying about her. All of the hurt feelings and anti-American anti-Constitution religious fundamentalism on the part of those who forget that the Republicans first plunged this country into war and economic ruin through a set of shenanigans on the part of a Bush and an ultra conservative on the Supreme Court to get the Republican candidate into the Presidency and his tossing out of required procedures to start and continue funding a war, that the Republican Congress has stymied President Obama for 6 of his 8 year term and is responsible for the most part for the state we are in at present while the President actually did a great job cleaning up Bush’s mess when he could, that the Republican Congress has DENIED the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice in a blatant and unprecedented move to enact anti-Constitutional policy even and equally blatantly told us all that they would continue to do so for the next 4 years if the Democrat was elected, are THE problem in this country today. Like it or not, there is a substantial difference between their need and desire to pretend that if they are not allowed to strip religious freedom (for example) from everyone else that somehow means they are not being allowed their own freedom of religion, and the need and desire of those who are American by more than just an accident of birth to ensure that the guarantee of freedom of religion is applied to ALL citizens.

    I am sure you mean well, but you cannot heal the wounded who know very well the rest, whether they too are wounded or not, want to harm them further and keep right on harming them as well as destroying this country via that attack on its unique Constitution. And you cannot unite a country now comprised of in-power “alt-right” true believers against everyone who does not look/act/believe/think as they do and the rest of us any more than you could have united a country comprised of white owners and black slaves.

    And that is what is at stake now. America itself.

    • Steve Baldwin

      November 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks again for reading and hearing my thoughts. And I know I have said it before, but thank you again for your service to our country. I am so sorry that way too often veterans do not get the honor they truly deserve.

      Thanks also for sharing your voice. I would encourage any of my fellow conservative friends who are reading this to listen, and I mean really listen, to what “If you don’t know, look it up” is saying here. This does not mean you have to agree on everything, but listening does mean you at least have to try to understand. And part of understanding also involves keeping in mind that even at times when you disagree, the feelings of frustration itself are always real and there’s always at minimum an ounce of truth to every side.

      And to my friend, “If you don’t know, look it up” I hear you. What I’m asking does appear on the outset to be impossible. But I guess that’s just the optimist in me coming out. 🙂

      I wish I could tell you that there is nothing to be concerned about in the next 4 years, but I honestly cannot say that. It largely depends on who actually shows up in office – the penitent Donald Trump that some of my conservative friends assure me truly loves everyone in America and we just haven’t really seen yet, or the nightmare Donald that you and I and so many fear (or somewhere in between).

      But I can tell you that from a faith perspective I do honestly believe God is at work behind the scenes in all this, in ways that we cannot fully see yet. But what that means is that the only way for us to have any kind of healing is for us to respond to him. And what I mean by that is that every single one of us (from BOTH sides) needs to start taking a good hard look ourselves to see what it is in us that needs to change. And the first place to start is by learning to listen. Once we do that, healing can begin. But even that it will take a look of good, hard work.

      If we are not willing to do that, and this path of not listening, polarization and hatred continues, then God help us.

  2. You’ve made some great points, in a rational and kind manner. I have no words for how heartbroken myself and my whole family are over this whole situation. I am trying to find hope for healing and reconciliation but fear things may become much worse before the real mending begins. I feel constantly torn between wanting to be a peace maker and wanting to demonstrate my outrage at what is NOT OKAY!! How can I be silent? And yet some people, good loving people, people I love very much. are the very ones promoting such hatefulness. This is a tough time for all of us.

  3. sir you forget the last 8yrs we the people have been called every name in the book for the way we think so we are very glad to have trump even with his faults we are bitter about the last 8yrs

    • Steve Baldwin

      November 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Thanks for reading, Keith. The 8 years you are referring to would be the Pearl Harbor attack I referenced in the article.

      As a conservative it is not lost on me the harmfulness of the last 8 years. I agree change needed to take place. However, as a Christian, I’m not sure I want bitterness to be my motivation.

    • Yes, arguably calling anyone an insulting or rude name for how s/he thinks, whether for the past 8 years, the past half century, the past 200 years, or the past two millennia, is egregious. As would be to respond in kind. Few, if any, of us are alone in being called an unpleasant name, and feeling hatred and some measure of fear as a result. To Steve’s point, that’s much of the harm.

  4. I’ll avoid getting into whether my candidate was the one elected, as well as how I feel about one candidate vs. another. I just want to congratulate you, Steve, on writing an insightful and thought-provoking — and thoughtful — article on what it means for most (all?) Americans in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign. So much baseless vitriol was spewed by and at so many people, it’s worth it to all Americans to acknowledge the damage and reach out — again, in all directions — in compassion. This isn’t a left wing or right wing matter; it’s not a religious matter; it a HUMAN matter.

  5. I was never more proud to be an American than the night I learned we had just elected our first black president…I cried. I was never more ashamed to be an American than the night I learned we had just elected Donald Trump to be our next president….I cried. In all honesty, I never thought the good people of these United States of America would let someone like Donald Trump get anywhere near the White House. Looking back, I think a lot of us thought that and we let our guard down. I come from a divided family on these issues and I was fond of saying during the campaign, “If Donald Trump is elected president, this country’s got bigger problems than Donald Trump becoming president.” I stand by that statement. We have a lot of work to do. I believe who we elect to represent us on the world stage is a reflection on who we are as a people and a nation. I totally understand the post-election marches and the signs, “Not My President!” I felt the same way. I wanted join in and shout to the world, “I didn’t do this!, I wouldn’t do this!” Like many, I’m still coming to terms with what has happened and in my best efforts I remind myself that both sides have a small, but powerful “bucket of deplorables,” who are racists bigots, and liars, who will continue to fan the fire and try to keep us distracted and divided while they promote their own agendas. However, I believe there is a much larger group from both sides that is comprised of decent, moral, hard-working people who are perfectly capable of reasonable thinking and reaching out for the common good of this great nation. I think it will take some time, but I believe it will happen. Steve, tonight I read both your articles, “If You Are a Trump Supporter These Are the 9 Things I Assume About You,” and this one. In my own effort to try to understand how this could happen and how I can most effectively reach out to those sane-minded people mentioned above, I found my way here. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write such thoughtful and “spot on,” articles. On my search for answers, I will keep my eyes open for more..

Join the discussion. Please tell me what you honestly think. My comment policy is simple: you are welcome to disagree with me or others on here as long as you do it with respect (no insults, personal attacks, etc). Of course, if you'd like to tell me how awesomely wonderful my points are then you make my unofficial favorite commenter's list. ;-)

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