The truth is, I’m going to be just fine during the Trump Administration. I ‘m holding a straight flush: white, male, able-bodied, middle-class, and middle-aged. I have a business of my own and my wife has a solid, well-paying job with a Fortune 10 company. We own our home and have other assets, including investment and retirement accounts. Our son has already been to war and is in no danger of having to go again. Our daughter can rely on us for economic and emotional support. Frankly, there is little Donald Trump can do to profoundly disturb our safe little world.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for millions of others who inhabit this country: African-Americans, Latinos, religious and sexual minorities, refugees, immigrants (both documented and undocumented), asylum-seekers, the disabled, the elderly, the poor. To one degree or another, they are all under threat, and that wears on me. It’s been keeping me up at night and occupying my thoughts during the day. Because if the Catholic principle of solidarity means anything, it means that I must be as concerned about their welfare as I am about my own; and more than that, it means I must share in their risk.
Lately, I’ve been staring a lot at US Code, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, paragraph 1324: Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens. I say staring because I find myself dumbly sitting in front of its provisions while not really processing them intellectually. I already know what they say and what they could do to me. I’m like a man who’s tumbled over a wall at the zoo and now sits staring at a lioness eyeing him from the other side of the enclosure. Her eyes, like those of the law, are cold and passionless, but that’s half the danger and most of the fear. If this was about passion, I might be able to summon every Ciceronian gift I have and win the day. But the truth is, I can no more argue with the law than I could with the lioness. Both just sit there, sphynx-like, waiting for me to make my move, which is the definitely the wrong move, but just might be the right thing to do.In my last piece, Radically Catholic in the Age of Trump, I offered a number of amorphous, meant-to-be-inspiring prescriptions for how committed Catholics ought to behave in a hostile culture: Be a Catholic in the fullest sense of the word, faithful to the whole teaching of the Church; cultivate the consciousness of an exile; practice the corporate and spiritual works of mercy with zeal; and be prepared for, even welcome, ridicule and persecution. I meant well. Honestly, I did. But the fact is that if you weren’t already on board with these, you’re not likely to be moving forward. And if that’s so, I’m happy to wish you peace, ask for your prayers, and shake the dust from my feet.
For those few who are (or say they are) committed to this life, I offer only this: If the new President does what he has promised to do, far more than blog posts, Facebook arguments, street protests, and the wearing of safety pins will be required of us. “Concern” and “prayers” will not be sufficient. What do I mean, exactly? Spend some time staring at US Code, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, paragraph 1324: Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens and think about it.