Yes, I love Donald Trump.
And yes, I am a 6’3” 250-pound black man from Selma, Alabama–the birthplace of the voting rights movement that gave much of our country the right to make our voices heard on election day.
Some people close to me who are activists for equality cringe when I say it. They ask, “Have you lost your mind?” or “How can you love someone who ran a campaign of hate and division and offended muslims, women, blacks, Mexicans, the LGBTQ community, veterans and even war heroes?”
Yes, I understand that this statement would be very difficult to reconcile for many, especially when what we’ve heard and seen from our president-elect has caused so much hurt and fear.
Let me give you some understanding about what I believe and what I practice.
Principle 3 of nonviolence says, ATTACK FORCES OF EVIL AND NOT THE PERSON DOING THE EVIL.
Dr. King preached a sermon on loving our enemy in 1957. His sermon highlighted this principle of nonviolence that he lived by–and one I strive to live by as well.
This principle has shaped my judgment and helps guide my anger towards the forces of evil and not toward a person. This principle is not just words with no power. It is powered by a strong redemptive love toward all humanity, but has a dislike of all evil, wrongdoing and injustice. This love is self-sacrificing and seeks the greater good, even when evil is returned. Dr. King knew that his oppressors were just as oppressed as he was by the system of hate that they lived in.
Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr, the man who trained me in the art and skill of nonviolent direct action, uses a beautiful analogy to explain its depth. Jim Clark was the sheriff in Selma during the civil rights movement. He was a very hard, angry and aggressive man that used his billy club to beat many nonviolent protestors. Dr. Lafayette said that the billy club was an instrument used by Jim Clark to beat people and it would be crazy to be angry at the billy club. It was just the instrument used.
Donald Trump is the billy club that is being used by a system to cause and inflict pain. The systems of Jim Crow and slavery were used to drive the behavior and justify the actions of many. I can’t be angry at Donald Trump for being the instrument of a system of oppression. He is oppressed by the same system of hate and division that he promotes.
I am angry at the system that conditions and damages so many with bad information.
How is it possible to love like this when I feel so much?
When we talk about this kind of love, it’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling the word “like” is. It is very difficult to love like this when we just don’t like someone. Like is a sentiment powered by emotions and feelings which can be unstable and ever changing. Principle 3 says to attack forces (ideologies, philosophies and wrong thinking) and not the person.
I don’t like the hurtful and divisive things Donald Trump says. But it is our duty and responsibility to love all of humanity — this is how we attack the system and not the person. Loving Donald Trump is not about not fighting back. It’s about fighting with a different tool. That tool is love.
It’s the tool that worked for Dr. King, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. It’s the most effective tool we have now. I must sacrifice what I feel, not about wrongdoing, but about the person(s) that are doing the wrongdoing, in order to live by this powerful principle.
Love keeps me free. It is what makes me different from the very systems I hate. If I don’t walk in love, I risk becoming the very thing that I hate.
We are not bound by our emotions, although they are a very real part of our everyday lives. But we are bound by a higher moral law of love. I have found that when I walk in this love, I am free of hate. I am free of anger. I am free of judgment. I AM FREE!