Catholic Values Column: Acting with peace in the face of debate


We as a country elected Donald Trump as our 45th president, and no matter whom you voted for, the country that protects you deserves your respect. You may not be happy with the outcome, or you may be overjoyed. Some people find themselves in the middle. The United States is founded on Christian principles and it’s time to look to them for guidance.

One of the forms of justice, as defined in theology, is the respect due to your country. It’s given because it gave you a homeland and, hopefully, protects your freedoms. Notice that this doesn’t say to worship the government or agree with everything it mandates; respect is different than compliance. We give respect to our country by trying our best to improve, not desecrate it, when it falls.

By giving respect to our country, we also give respect to those who founded it. The people who are choosing to riot, burn buildings and destroy property are spitting on the founding fathers, who protected their right to freedom. Their right to disagree and assemble is protected, and their riots have twisted that into destruction.

Riots only accomplish destruction and chaos. They encourage a government that will not respect its people, by proving that the people can’t assemble without violence. No unity will ever be accomplished through the riots, and anything that on the outside appears to be unity is only a bond of crime.

Respect is obviously lacking in the riots, so I say give them another option. If they dislike the country and the values it is founded on, they are not obligated to stay. By leaving peacefully, they are fulfilling their requirement to respect their country.

Is it the best option? No, but violence drives us apart more than it will ever unite us. No country has ever solved its issues through violence. Many, like France, have tried and all have failed. The United States exists because it didn’t found itself on violence and hatred, but rather true freedom and Christian virtue.

I often hear the argument that our country isn’t founded on virtue because of the revolution or any of the events occurring within it. One of the biggest differences between American Revolution and the French Revolution, although there are many more than just this, is that our founders handled the revolution with respect. The colonists rebelled against England only after trying to repair the unjust government. When they couldn’t achieve that, they rebelled in order to break away from injustice.

The American Revolution didn’t attempt to assassinate the leaders of England or any of their social or religious classes like France did later, or like the rioters are calling for now. In short, the American Revolution had respect for England even though Americans strongly disagreed with the government’s decisions.

The people who disagree with the election of Trump are also called to act more like the colonists and less like the people of France during revolution. Instead of calling for assassination and murder, call for dialogue and peace between political parties. Even the colonists didn’t react with war right away and they had been truly mistreated, far beyond the wound of losing a presidential election.

We have elected Trump because we are tired of a nation that is in constant confusion, filled with people who handle their differences by using violence. We owe him, and any leader, the respect with which we would treat any other person and the chance to improve the nation.

He may not make all the right decisions, but no leader has. He has not violated human rights, and on the contrary, says he wants to improve the treatment of the most vulnerable: the unborn. That is something we as Catholics should all support. We know that Hillary Clinton would not have stood up for the unborn if she was elected, and the right to life is the most basic and important of all to protect. Therefore, I think our country made the right decision even though neither candidate was stellar.

Although he is not perfect, President-Elect Donald Trump deserves our respect and the chance to improve our country. Hoping for him to do badly as a president is hoping for our country to wither and die. For those on both sides of the issue, please act with virtue and listen to the other side instead of acting harshly. Always stand up for what you believe in, but do it in gentleness and respect for life.

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