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Ashley Van Otterloo raises her candle with others at a vigil in support of immigrants held at Coolidge Park on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the wake of President Donald J. Trump's executive order on immigration. The vigil, titled "We All Belong," was held in partnership with Bridge Refugee Services. / Staff photo by Doug Strickland

Yes, I'm voting. Gladly and eagerly, I will cast my Super Tuesday vote for a Democrat to defeat Donald Trump, one of the most repulsive presidents of all time.

Boorish.

And reckless.

"President Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years," The Washington Post reported in January.

"We have no responsible Republican Party anymore. It is a deformed Trump personality cult," Thomas Friedman wrote last week.

"We're all in the ghetto now," declared Erin Aubry Kaplan in The New York Times.

Trump treats respected things with constant disrespect, like this storybook ogre who eats towers of our national stability so casually and willingly. His behavior as president is unthinkable, then numbing, then commonplace and normalized. How does one keep count? (16,241 — 16,242 — 16,243.)

So yes, I'm voting because I can't stand this man.

Some days, I even hate him.

That's why, four days ago, I cast another type of vote.

On Wednesday — Ash Wednesday — I made a promise, a vow.

I'd try to love this man I hate.

For 40 days, I will try to love Donald Trump.

During the 40 days of Lent, I will intentionally and quietly offer prayers or meditations for the well-being of Donald Trump. Each day, I will write down some sort of meditative words that encourages loving kindness, not hate, for this man. Through gritted teeth. Rain or shine.

Why?

I'm tired of hating him.

For once, I want to really take Christ's words seriously.

"Love your enemies," he said. "Pray for those who persecute you."

My No. 1 political enemy is Donald Trump.

Consider it a social experiment, a 40-day test to see if I can intentionally soften my — or our — national anger.

For me, it's Trump.

For you, it's Nancy Pelosi. Or Hillary Clinton. (Or — I'm well aware — me.)

This is not an attempt to suppress my anger. Tried that for years; doesn't work. Anger is healthy, necessary, cleansing.

Yet we are overdosing, our anger-energy encouraged by so many forces around us. (Let's unplug the internet for a month and watch what happens.)

Earlier this week, I was reading when my eyes fell across a word that gave me pause and, strangely, lit up like a supernova off the page, as if I had forgotten such a thing even existed.

That word?

"Grace."

We have a 100:1 anger-to-grace ratio in the United States these days, our dominant institutions — media, politics on both sides — with their loud cachets of pettiness, ignorance and meanness.

When I pay attention to my anger — especially at Trump — I see it's often tied to fear, a response to a growing helplessness: mass shootings, mass incarceration, climate change, pandemics, election security, Russia, China. (Consider this: if defeated in November, will Trump leave peacefully?)

It feels unsustainable. I've begun to withdraw, to retreat, trying to combat the exhaustion.

Do you feel it, too?

How do we hold onto spiritual truths while also engaging in politics? The truths that morality espouses — love thy neighbor — are suffocated within politics, where other strategies rule: ridicule, distort, lie and lie again.

Much of this mess began because the Right felt demonized and ridiculed by the Left. Trump's election was like a middle finger. The sins of the Left passed down to the Right.

How do we interrupt that?

When do the middle fingers stop?

What will happen after 40 days of intentionally wishing peace and well-being for Trump?

Will it change my view of him?

Of politics? Republicans? Democrats?

Will this become a 40-day fool's errand?

Let me be clear:

I'm not sending kissy-face Hallmark cards to Trump. This is a serious extension of Christ's doctrine and a meditation practice known as metta. Stuart Smalley they ain't.

My daily prayers won't be passive aggressive. (May Donald Trump finally grow up.)

Or New Age-silly. (May Donald Trump find light in his heart.)

Nor am I doing this to minimize or diminish the very real suffering and loss of life his policies create.

My quiet hope is to gain a bit of wisdom. To see clearly: Trump, myself, you. To judge less. To chip away at my own self-righteousness. To love more.

"Everybody is sacred," one friend recently said. "Everybody. We just forget."

What would it look like to remember?

David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at dcook@timesfreepress.com.

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David Cook
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