Having just returned from a deeply moving and inspiring immersion experience in our nation’s capital, I read the news headlines from our president as he once again disparaged groups of people, and in particular people of color. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he said, referring to immigration and in particular Haitians and Africans.
Words matter. What we say matters. In my Judeo-Christian tradition we have a proverb that states, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit — you choose.” The comments by President Trump are un-presidential, unacceptable, and inexcusable. But these are not the first of this type to be uttered by our president.
Whether we are speaking of inciting violence during his campaign appearances, referring to sexual assault against women, mocking the disabled, suggesting a registry of Muslims, accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists, leveling racist comments toward Native Americans, placating Nazi sympathizers, or his attacks on President Obama regarding his birthplace, our words matter. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”
And my indignation toward his words and policies are not just directed toward the president. Those who continue to deny, deflect, ignore, and justify his comments are equally as guilty. Even to say nothing is to lend support to the inherent racism and sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry whether it is blatant or underlying his words. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”
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As I come from that incredibly inspiring experience in Washington, reading words of our founders, of the likes of Lincoln, King, Rosa Parks, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Shirley Chisholm, and so many others, and I think of the words that continue to come from our current administration I am heartsick and disgusted. The words from our current president continue to be a blemish on our great history and I can no longer remain silent. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”
I will choose fruit, for I cannot participate in, nor condone any sense of the poison continuing to be put forth by our president.
President Trump, I pray for you, I pray for our country. You have been our president for a year now, it is time you began acting like one and living up to the great honor and office you hold. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”
Rev. Kent H. Little is lead pastor at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita.