Droit du seigneur (right of the first night).
Homo sum humani, nihil a mi alienum puto.
My own hypocrisy is the most challenging thing to face head-on sometimes. Edit: most of the time. Especially when it comes to the idea of empathy and how it relates to Donald J. Trump, sworn in as the 45th leader of the United States of America, the country in which our family claims citizenship with both pride and humility.
This man is the epitome of arrogance and bombast; a poster man* for corruption, deceit, cruelty, pettiness, and what it means to elevate yourself above all else. I do not support his presidency, other than to resignedly accept that by the laws of this land, he was elected and we will respect those laws and show deference to the office in which he now resides in a self-created throne.
We have many discussions about politics and government with the children, and I have to repeatedly remind myself to try and find the balance of honesty with empathy. The truth is, he is flat out dishonest; the most blatantly dishonest president we have ever had - I stand by this statement, largely because of the way in which he revels in willfully, deliberately modifying facts to suit his reality; a circular reality which is frequently supported by his statements or those of his acolytes. As opposed to actual facts.
He is dishonest, but to be totally fair, he’s also mean.
Trying to be humorous. Dishonest and mean. How to find anything redemptive about this figure who as alienated and hurt so many?
And yet…we are a Christian family. It is harder and harder for me to say that, because of the eighty percent of the evangelical community who has left a massive scar across the heart of what Christianity means with their support of this man; a medieval man who claims Christianity with the same possessive stench of a king claiming droit du seigneur.
Droit du seigneur being ‘right of first refusal’ on a woman’s wedding night (familiar to many from the Mel Gibson film Braveheart). In other words, if I want to sleep with you on your wedding night, I will. Because I can. And you, and your new husband can’t prevent me. Because it’s my god-given right. It’s not about sex or attraction. It’s about power. About asserting that I can do what I want because I am king and you are not. Did this idea actually exist in medieval times? Historians don’t know for certain. But the idea exists.
Few horrific ideas explain, to me, DJT’s approach to leadership, religion, and relationships as effectively as droit du seigneur.
I loathe the way in which this man has connected himself with Christianity, a religion that was founded with radical concepts of humility, self-sacrifice, love for others, (especially the marginalized, the powerless, and the poor), and acknowledging of one’s sins and mistakes. Ideas that he has not merely ignored, but snubbed, mocked, and dismissed.
And yet. He is a human. If I am a Christian, a follower of Christ, I have to acknowledge he is a child of God. Which makes him a brother. Brother Trump. How do I say or write these words without gagging? I loathe almost everything he stands for and is.
He is a human. He is capable of greatness, and I am capable of pettiness and evil. We are all capable of the extremes of goodness and evil.
Homo sum humani nihil, a mi alienum puto.
I am a human, therefore nothing human is alien to me.
So we will keep on having challenging and honest conversations with our children.
And I will try and test the breaking points of my empathy. To remember that this man who represents so much of what I loathe…
…is still a human.
Worthy of the respect that every human is due and even the empathy to realize that within my own heart, I am also capable of bringing wretchedness and vileness to the world. I am not above that. I will try not to, I will always try. But within us all lurks that capacity.
We will practice honesty and we will practice empathy.
We will fight for what we need to fight for and find peace with what we must find peace with.
We will try and model for our children a respect for humanity and the dramatic extremes we are all capable of.
We will try.
*I say poster man, not poster child, because I don’t believe he shares any of the most wonderful qualities that define the magic and brilliance of childhood.