Unity After Trump

Unity After Trump January 21, 2021

BarBus: Joe Biden /Pixabay

Evil corrupts and divides. That is how evil works. It perverts the good, using elements of the good to destroy the good from the inside. Evil wants to appear to be good, and to be united with what is good, so that it can take more of that good and corrupt it, thereby rendering the good null and void. Unity with evil only leads to corruption and division, while on the other hand, what evil takes, still possesses some good, for no evil is absolute; there is something which the good should desire to be united with even within the evil, the good which the evil perverted. In this manner, that good should be discerned, cleaned from the stain of evil, restored to its integral goodness, and once again be brought into its proper place with the fullness of the good. Unity is indeed a goal for creation. All things should be united as one, but they should be united in goodness, and not with evil. This is not a contradictory statement because evil does not possess any substance of its own; evil is not a thing in and of itself. So, when we conventionally talk about uniting with evil, we mean accepting the corrupting influence of evil, trying to adapt to and include it in one’s unity. But that is impossible, because evil will destroy that unity from within, as it takes the good which it finds and corrupts it like a cancer, spreading itself throughout that unity until the bonds of unity are entirely destroyed and all that is left in its wake is rubble.

President Biden calls Americans to unity. However, he is not calling us to unity with evil. He is not suggesting that the United States can be united without first exorcising and overcoming the evil of its past. But he does suggest that such evil can be overcome, that the good which was taken in by it and perverted by it can be cleansed from the stain of evil and restored to its original integrity and then be free to be united with the rest of the United States. Biden is not saying we should ignore the past and do nothing about the evil which we have faced; rather, he is pointing out that the goal should be for a unity guided by the common good, desiring to bring in those who can be brought into that unity, realizing of course, it will not be an easy task.

This is why those who have done evil under the Trump administration must be tried and prosecuted for whatever crimes they have committed. In this way, the United States can change its path and promote the common good. Indeed, in doing this, even those who have done evil will be given a chance to turn away from their past, change their ways, and make restitution; if they do so, they can eventually find their place with the common good and find that the unity which Biden wants is also for them. But such unity must not be misconstrued as if all things can be easily forgiven and forgotten, that there is no need for metanoia on behalf of those who have done wrong; Biden is not promoting a cheap unity which ignores evil and how such evil corrupts and destroys what it enters, but rather a unity which requires hard work, a true unity coming from the promotion of what is good and true. There should be no cheap grace, and so there can be no unity without first fixing the problems which caused our nation to become so divided. Those who have promoted evil, those who continue to promote evil, cannot tell us that any unity in the future requires us to accept their evil; what they want is not unity, but the power to corrupt and divide the nation once again.

We need only to look at what the Trump administration and its officials were doing before Biden was inaugurated to see how the Trump administration, to the very end, strived to divide the nation by promoting evil.  Thus, for example, we can see how Trump attacked the election, leading to a violent attack on Congress; we likewise should be able to see that the Trump administration rapidly executed people, knowing that the death penalty will be stopped once Trump was out of office; similarly, the Trump administration issued many leases to allow drilling in lands which were previously protected; Trump promoted a terribly racist, ideological commission which sought to rewrite history in order to justify such racism; Trump attempted to slow down and hamper immigration reform; and finally, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, there was an outright rejection of the unity as Pompeo, speaking on behalf of the Trump administration, decried multiculturalism.[1]

Biden’s call for unity is necessary but it must be understood that it is only through the promotion of the common good and rejection of the evil which has been done in the name of the United States. Only in this manner can unity blossom. There is the need to admit the evil which has been done, and the further need for restitution to be done to overcome that evil.  St. John Paul II, talking about the division in modern society, likewise, suggested that we need to call out the sin which has caused such division, and do what we can to deal with that sin, to heal the wounds which it has created: “But reconciliation cannot be less profound than the division itself. The longing for reconciliation and reconciliation itself will be complete and effective only to the extent that they reach-in order to heal it-that original wound which is the root of all other wounds: namely sin.”[2]’ He made a list, in his day, of the things which were dividing the world:

  • The trampling upon the basic rights of the human person, the first of these being the right to life and to a worthy quality of life, which is all the more scandalous in that it coexists with a rhetoric never before known on these same rights.
  • Hidden attacks and pressures against the freedom of individuals and groups, not excluding the freedom which is most offended against and threatened: the freedom to have, profess and practice one’s own faith.
  • The various forms of discrimination: racial, cultural, religious, etc.
  • Violence and terrorism.
  • The use of torture and unjust and unlawful methods of repression.
  • The stockpiling of conventional or atomic weapons, the arms race with the spending on military purposes of sums which could be used to alleviate the undeserved misery of peoples that are socially and economically depressed.
  • An unfair distribution of the world’s resources and of the assets of civilization, which reaches its highest point in a type of social organization whereby the distance between the human conditions of the rich and the poor becomes ever greater. The overwhelming power of this division makes the world in which we live a world shattered to its very foundations. [3]

Many of these were features of the Trump administration, and so should be called out and properly dealt with if there is going to be any hope for unity in the future. Human rights must be accorded to all. Refugees must be accorded that respect, instead of treated like wild animals in cages. Discrimination must be put to an end, and so we must make a preference to help those who have been unduly discriminated against in the past. Wealth, moreover, should be better distributed, so that the universal distribution of goods is not hampered.  For all this to happen, there will need to be conversion; the ideologies which promoted evil need to be exposed, those warped by those ideologies educated, so that the sin of the past can be cut from us, allowing us to heal as a nation, following the general principles of reconciliation:

Reconciliation becomes necessary because there has been the break of sin from which derive all the other forms of break within man and about him. Reconciliation, therefore, in order to be complete necessarily requires liberation from sin, which is to be rejected in its deepest roots. Thus a close internal link unites conversion and reconciliation. It is impossible to split these two realities or to speak of one and say nothing of the other. [4]

Unity requires us to truly desire the common good, to look after and hope for the good for all. We need to overcome the petty infighting which sin promotes. Biden could, if he wanted, quote Pope Francis, and say: “Let us renounce the pettiness and resentment of useless in-fighting and constant confrontation. Let us stop feeling sorry for ourselves and acknowledge our crimes, our apathy, our lies. Reparation and reconciliation will give us new life and set us all free from fear.”[5] This is exactly how we move forward. This is how we overcome what we have become as nation. This is how we unite.

[1] These are only a few examples, and from recent weeks. The whole time of Trump’s presidency, we can find multiple examples of the way Trump was damaging the nation, creating and fostering division so as to destroy the good which the nation could and should embrace.

[2] St. John Paul II,  Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. Vatican translation. ¶3.

[3] St. John Paul II,  Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. Vatican translation. ¶2.

[4] St. John Paul II,  Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. Vatican translation. ¶4.

[5] Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti. Vatican translation. ¶78.


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