Carnage is not a word I expected to hear as a new president took the oath of office. I expect to read it in a book about the civil war as an author describes a battlefield littered with the bodies of the blue and grey. I expect to hear it in a news report after a terrorist attack in a bustling public place. Or looking at the horrific impact on human life after a mass shooting.
I admit to feeling a little creeped out as I watched a scowling President of the United States talk about his take on the nation he was elected to govern in terms of carnage. Carnage that summed up the terms of four living presidents who had preceded him in office. 28 cumulative years of presidential experience and public service brushed aside as if worthless. Dozens of new colleagues sitting behind him who contributed to the messes our country is in because all they did was talk, talk, talk and took no action.
Our previous president ran on a platform of hope but there was precious little hope in view last Friday. The new president did not look hopeful. Looking out on scenes of crime filled cities and rusted out factories and people living miserable lives he had accepted a heavy burden to turn this country around. He has said he believes he is the only one who can.
Not all of us are scowling today Mr President. We see plenty of things to be grateful for even if you don't. A small mission team from our church returned from a trip to Uganda the night before the inauguration. There they visited staff from a ministry that works with refugees from other countries. Uganda's borders are porous, one member of the team said. They accept anyone who is fleeing the violence of war, the carnage which many have experienced personally. Our team led a retreat of spiritual respite and community building. They experienced the hospitality of the local people in their homes and at meals. Many of the staff of this ministry are former refugees themselves and they have so much gratitude and joy in their lives now. They share whatever they have. They know carnage, experienced it firsthand, but now they experience a different reality and generously share it.
I suppose the view from the penthouse of the Trump Tower in NYC or a lenai overlooking the ocean at Mar-a- Lago looks different.