Lessons in Gratitude

Who would have guessed there would be lessons in gratitude—and the consequences of ingratitude—from the president of the United States and the father of a college basketball player accused of shoplifting in China. If you don’t know the story, here’s a brief recap.

Donald Trump, who was in China a few weeks ago at the time the incident took place, evidently persuaded the president of China to go easy on three players who took some expensive sunglasses from a high-end store without paying for them.

After the three players were arrested, questioned, detained, and then released and sent home, they expressed their gratitude to president Trump. But the father of one of the players refused to offer thanks. His omission might have gone unnoticed, but the dad was vocal about his refusal.

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Do We Live in a Dark World?

People who see the world as “dark” aren’t held in high regard. They are called curmudgeons, pessimists, even villains.

By contract, people who see the world in a positive light are considered optimistic. They’re the good guys.

Donald Trump’s speech at the close of the Republican National Convention was castigated by the opposition and the press as being “dark.” President Obama was so bothered by its tone that he felt compelled to reply the next day, “This idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse—this vision of violence and chaos everywhere—doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people.”

Taking politics out of this discussion (I know, that’s nearly impossible), this sunny statement by the president against the negative images conjured by Trump begs an important question, one that doesn’t concern only our time, but all of time, the way it’s always been, at least since the fall.

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Why Trump Is Winning

In this crazy, unpredictable, perplexing election year, we’re seeing candidates who are redefining what it means to be a politician. Or not.

Consider the candidacy of Donald Trump, who is frustrating the living daylights out of the Republican establishment. You could say Bernie Sanders is having the same effect on the Democratic party, but he is a long shot, while Trump seems to have a chance of being his party’s presidential candidate.

Whether you are horrified or intrigued by that prospect, my purpose here is to neither endorse nor denigrate Trump, but to offer one very simple explanation for why one of the most polarizing figures in modern political history is winning. In fact, it has to do with why.

Trump is very clear about why he is running, and I’ll bet you know “why.” That’s right. He’s running to make America great again.

I’ve been doing a little experiment with the slogans (or tag lines) of the seven remaining presidential candidates (two Democratic, five Republican). I went to the websites of each candidate and noted the slogan of each one. Here they are:
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Love Kindness

This Op-Ed piece by Dr. Barry Corey, president of Biola University, originally appeared in the Washington Post under the title, 'I'd like to punch him in the face': The incredible shrill of this election season.

“You are the single biggest liar.” “This guy is a petulant child.” “Let’s get the boy in his bubble out of his bubble.” “A lightweight choker.” “A low-energy ‘stiff.’”

Or the latest, from Donald Trump about a protestor: “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

Maybe I’m amnesiac, but does this year’s political season seem more outrageous than ever? By outrageous I mean the outrage, the heat, the shrill. Why have so many candidates put on red or blue ties and then wrapped themselves in razor wire before coming to the podium?

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