The Ten Commandments for Donald Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Hartford on October 26th, urged us to not abandon our traditional values. I want to give that same advice to our current President. In that office, he should be the standard-bearer of our best values. And what could be a better place to start looking at those values than with The Ten Commandments?  It’s hard to argue with them. Here they are:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

Here’s The Ten Commandments tailor-made for Donald Trump:

  1. You shall not make of yourself a god, a center of the world, a perfect being.
  2. You shall not make an idol of money by worshipping an arms deal more than a human life and by giving tax breaks to the ultra-rich while denying hourly workers a living wage.
  3. You shall know that words are powerful and use them judiciously not stirring up mobs by insulting those you present to them as enemies.
  4. You shall honor what is holy. You shall phone and express empathy to those who have been targets of homemade bombs. You shall condemn anti-Semitic prejudice at the site of deaths caused by that prejudice. You shall welcome those seeking asylum from violence and death. You shall not separate little children from their parents. You shall remind us of the sanctity of human life as President Barak Obama did when he sang “Amazing Grace” in Charleston after the shooting deaths.
  5. You shall give credit to those who went before you who brought us out of a recession, extended our civil liberties, and enhanced our position in the world because they are upon whose shoulders you stand.
  6. You shall honor innocent life, whether they be hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, children in our public schools, or a college professor from California who comes forward to tell her truth because she sees it as her civic responsibility.
  7. You, who are comfortable with your own adultery and boast of your own sexual assault, shall not demean the pain of those who have suffered sexual assault and shall not publicly humiliate one of the women with whom you committed adultery.
  8. You shall not use the office of the President of the United States to make money for yourself.
  9. You shall not lie further to the American people even though, in your first 20 months in office, you made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims.
  10. You shall control your envy of world leaders who are autocrats, who are not limited by the rule of law, who engage in barbarism, who deny a free press, and who exercise absolute power because, if your envy wins out, our democracy will spiral down into fascism.

Mr. President: Language Matters.

Of all the sadnesses I have about the current state of our great nation, a key one is that our incoming President uses language to destroy not build, to hurt not heal, to divide not unite. Tom Friedman gives examples of Donald Trump’s use of language and suggests alternatives. 

I once taught English to 7th grade boys. The most immature and insecure of those boys used language as Donald Trump does. They insulted others and insisted on their own greatness. I worked hard to help my students to be aware of their language and, more importantly, to think more broadly and deeply. My goal was to help them to be less self-absorbed and to be open to new ways of seeing the world as they gained confidence in themselves as part of that larger world. I have similar wishes for Donald Trump. I hope that he ceases to see himself as the center of his own world and, instead, sees himself as part of a larger world in which he has tremendous responsibilities.

Language matters. Language both expresses our existing thoughts and creates our new thoughts. We need a President who thinks more broadly and deeply and speaks and writes out of that deeper, broader thinking. We need a President who uses language to dialogue with others and explore diverse ideas in order to create new thinking for himself. Only by using language in both of those ways can he call us, the American people, to envision a country in which we can all take pride.