I know that Canadians have a different perspective of the elections in the U.S. After all, we are the next-door neighbours peering over the fence at the goings on in the backyard next door. Whether one is looking over the fence or living in the yard, the vantage point is surely different, so Canadians must remember that our perspective is coloured from where we stand. I want to acknowledge this essential reality.
I, like many other Canadian Christians, watched the acceptance speech of Donald Trump with interest. I don’t want to make America great again, because I am not an American. That’s their task, not ours. But I am happy if our neighbour finds a way to renew their democracy to a place of ascendancy. After all, it is good for any people to renew themselves. I wish them all the best as they come to terms with crime, the rebuilding of infrastructure, the dealing with national debt and finding jobs for those who are unemployed. I do know that Americans have to address illegal immigration, but how they do this will reflect on whether they are compassionate as well as just. Indeed, our neighbours have a great many challenges, and I for one wish them well. Indeed, I commit to pray for them in this important time.
But as a neighbour, I am deeply concerned as we are more than just neighbours. We are also business partners. We have been trading with each other for a long time, and both sides of the partnership have benefited and prospered. When Donald Trump announces that he will tear up NAFTA, I wonder: Is this a signal that our more powerful partner will insist on deals that hurt our partnership?
Furthermore, we are not just neighbours and business partners; I am quite aware that our neighbours influence us. After all, their house is bigger and more prestigious than ours, and what they do always seems to spill over into our backyard. This is especially true when it comes to American Christianity and how it impacts those of us who are Christians on this side of the line.
I am concerned when so many of my fellow Christians over the fence have so passionately become supporters of one very troubling man. I did not hear him say anything about the things that Christians have commonly cared about. I’m talking about abortion, respect for life, care for the poor and the oppressed, and love for the foreigner and the alien.
Indeed, I couldn’t help but feel that “making America great again” had everything to do with holding people in other nations with suspicion. Trump gave the impression that all foreign nations have been doing nothing but taking advantage of America. He seemed to say, “We are not going to take it from you people across the fence anymore.” Seeing our very powerful neighbour saying this to the cheers of many of my brothers and sisters in Christ on that side of the fence gives me reason for concern.
Looking in from the other side, I make an appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the fence. I believe that Christ is our first loyalty, and the first alliance we have is not to your backyard or my backyard. Christians are first loyal to brothers and sisters in Jesus, wherever we find them – be it in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, China or Argentina. Hence we as followers of Jesus can never be fiercely nationalistic. Let’s all of us believers never forget this.
That’s my perspective from this side of the fence, at least.