Opinion Column

Kernels of Wisdom: Donald Trump’s number one liability

By Rev. Eric Strachan

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images: 
This file photo taken on Jan. 10 shows United States President Donald Trump during a press conference with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Outrage mounted Friday over Trump's reported description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as "shithole" countries, with the United Nations slamming his comments as "racist". During a Thursday meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, Trump demanded to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called "shithole" countries, according to comments first reported by the Washington Post.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images: This file photo taken on Jan. 10 shows United States President Donald Trump during a press conference with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Outrage mounted Friday over Trump's reported description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as "shithole" countries, with the United Nations slamming his comments as "racist". During a Thursday meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, Trump demanded to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called "shithole" countries, according to comments first reported by the Washington Post.

Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage

PUBLILIUS SYRUS

My Scottish mother was a fountain of wisdom. With only a public school education she would never ever have considered herself highly intellectual nor the most articulate person in the whole world, but from her mouth there flowed an unusual river of wisdom that came wrapped up in neat little one-liners spoken in her thick Scottish brogue. In my childhood and teenage years there she was pumping out words of enlightenment in the hope that maybe they would fall upon listening ears and somehow shape the character of her son.

“A fool and his money are easily parted Eric,” I would hear her say. “What does she mean?” I would ask myself as I heard her remark, invariably after a display of my headstrong attitude, “Pride comes before the fall Eric.” As kids we were repeatedly admonished to get up early and embrace a sound work ethic. Mom’s wisdom on such subjects was often framed in a cool little rhyme chiefly designed of course so it would easily be remembered. “Remember Eric, early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I never really knew it back then because my Scottish mother kept her religious beliefs to herself but a great deal of her simple wisdom I discovered came from the Bible, principally from the Book of Proverbs, and here’s where I take a giant leap to introduce another subject of the utmost importance – I wish the man who is known as the most powerful man in the world, United States President Donald Trump, could have sat at my mother’s feet for a day or two.

What would she have said to him? With the simple uncanny sense she had of evaluating character and speaking simple yet profound wisdom into people’s lives I’m absolutely persuaded she would have addressed the subject of the power of the human tongue. There’s no doubt she would first and foremost have said to ‘The Donald’, “Donald, don’t blow your own horn”. That would have been her simple way of paraphrasing what the Bible says in Proverbs 27:2, “Let another praise you and not your own mouth, someone else, and not your own lips.” Trump referred to himself the other day as ‘a genius’. Such self- raise is completely lacking in humility, and neither honours the man nor the presidency.

It was Max Lucado the Christian writer who spoke about Donald Trump’s perpetual tendency to belittle and demean people with his tongue. Said Lucado, “If he’s going to call himself a Christian one day and call someone else a bimbo the next, or make fun of someone’s menstrual cycle, it’s just beyond reason to me.” I came home late Thursday night but could hardly believe my ears when I heard on late night television that the U.S. president had referred to many immigrants to the United States as people from “shithole countries.” My Scottish mother would have said to me in no uncertain terms after hearing such profanity laced with racist vitriol, “Eric, you need your mouth to be washed out with soap!” Says the wisdom of Proverbs, “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” (The Bible, Proverbs 12:22)

Without question, Donald Trump has never learned the inevitable consequences of an uncontrolled tongue. Again to quote the Bible, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (The Bible, Proverbs 13:3) It is estimated that to date in his presidency Donald Trump has told somewhere in the region of about 2,000 lies or misleading statements. How tragic! In a powerful statement in the Book of Proverbs the writer declares that there are “six things the Lord hates.” In the list that follows it is clearly spelled out that the Lord loathes and abhors “a lying tongue” and “the liar who pours out lies.” (The Bible, Proverbs 6:17-19) There is no question of course that the tongue is the mouthpiece of the human heart and that the words that come from the tongue that we speak each day to people in conversation reveal the condition of the heart, says the Bible, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” (The Bible, Proverbs 16:23.) The words that you and I speak undoubtedly define our character, whether it is moral and upright or base and corrupt. In the concluding chapter of the Book of Proverbs the writer itemizes the characteristics of a woman of “noble character.” She has many wonderful attributes but one of them is “she speaks with wisdom” (The Bible, Proverbs 31:26)

Donald Trump’s chief liability is his tongue. It is tragically sad that in his freshman year as President of The United States of America, the office he holds that should be dignified and honoured, has been dragged through the proverbial dirt. A man’s tongue can surely be his ruination. Unless there is heartfelt repentance before God on the part of Donald Trump this man will not change.

I wish as I have said that Donald Trump could have sat down at the feet of my mother for a day or two. I can just hear her say in that thick distinctive Scottish brogue in words ever so simple, “Eric, hand me that cake of soap and that cloth. And you Donald, hold out your tongue and keep it there. This may take a while!”



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