By JIM NICHOLS
My editor has issued a caution to avoid writing anything that is too political. I will do my best, but note that I am presenting a testimonial here; you do not have to agree with it. It is mine.
Two items have come together in my thinking. The first is the great story of Samuel choosing David as the king. God sends Samuel to Jesse’s home to identify the future king that God has, apparently, already found. Samuel thinks he knows what a king should look like and presents his sons one by one to Samuel for the choice. When Samuel rejects each, he asks if there is not still one son remaining. In the selection of David, we realize the significance of the earlier communication from God to Samuel. A paraphrase is that God is not looking at the outward appearance because “God looks on the heart.”
If you want to boggle your mind, use a Bible concordance to see where and when the word “heart” is used. Lots. I do not like writers to bombard me with scriptures but note that frequently the heart and mouth are connected in scripture, and not always in a positive way. Evil intentions in the heart can be expressed through the mouth. On the other hand, the good treasure of the heart produces abundance, even rivers of living water. It says to me that we should pay close attention to what people say because that may well be representative of their hearts and character. I listen to the President as he speaks and tweets.
The second item occurring to me comes from 1960 when, as a sophomore in high school, I was taking a summer class in American History. The teacher of the class was unknown to us before the term started. Apparently, she was a law student trying to make some extra money in the summer. She was one of the most excellent teachers I ever had. Not only did she lead us through American history, but she was informative and encouraging to us about the national government. We were right at the end of the second presidential term of Dwight Eisenhower; the campaign for the next president (it would be John Kennedy) was just beginning that summer.
She was particularly enthusiastic about the presidency, no matter who it was. She held up this person as worthy of great respect and honor; she was almost a cheerleader for the presidency. She asked rhetorical questions such as, “If the president were coming to your house for supper, you would put on your best clothes, right?” To which we would answer, “Yes!” She would say, “The president has a really nice car. You want your president to have a nice car, don’t you?” The class would respond “Yes!”
I have wondered what she would say about the presidency today.
If you like Donald Trump and what he says and does, I do not reject you; I do reject him as a legitimate and appropriate leader of our country. On the day I vote this year, I will look into the mirror and say to myself: I will not vote for a person who clearly lies much of the time. I will not vote for a person who is openly hostile to immigrants, asylum seekers, and non-whites. I will not vote for a person who has been married three times and openly brags about sexually assaulting women, who does not accept scientific consensus on matters and acts as if he understands more than professional scientists, who attempts to divide the country rather than unite it, who seems to lack even a few moments of reflection and substitutes exaggeration and boasting, who seems to use the word “I” all the time, who is not knowledgeable as to the separation of powers of the U.S. constitution, who always builds himself up publicly, who is transparently narcissistic, who hides his income tax information, who ridicules individuals with physical disabilities.
As that teacher taught me, I do respect the presidency. In addition, I believe that a person’s words indicate important aspects of the person’s character and I believe character counts.
Jim Nichols is a retired Abilene Christian University biology professor and current medical chaplain