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.
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.
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.
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. The 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.
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.
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.
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