After an election campaign that has been described as the most hateful in history, it is no surprise that internal tensions are rising. The predictable calls to unity seems to fall on deaf ears.

The thin veneer of unity seems to be under threat in many nations, but in the USA the division is very visible at the moment. And so I have chosen this example as something I see emerging all over the world. (We have been resident in a few countries, including the USA) I also used the words, prophetic vision, not to claim some divine instruction or validation of what I’m saying, but rather as a possible future that is most likely. In fact I want to share two possibilities – two possible ways of achieving unity. The first, and a method that has been most successful throughout human history, was expounded by the late Rene Girard and is known as memetic theory.

A New Enemy – A New Unity
Trump, has been very effective in identifying enemies and rallying the battle cries. These chosen enemies have often divided opinion, but now that it is preferable to have a unified America, it will be much more beneficial to focus on enemies beyond the borders of the USA. This process of projecting our own internal conflicts onto others is also known as scapegoating and has successfully served individuals, families, communities and nations throughout human history. When I say it has successfully served us, I do not mean to justify it, but simply to acknowledge its success.

The USA and for that matter, any other country, has never been as united as when they are at war.

Practically how this works, is that the focus gets shifted and instead of doing the hard and unpleasant work of understanding and resolving internal conflict, the quicker and easier path of projecting our own guilt onto another is chosen. This brings much relief and a type of unity that is almost immediate … but, unfortunately, not very lasting.

This is why many countries are understandably a bit nervous right now. No one knows who the chosen enemy will be … and enmity is not exclusively expressed in physical violence. Trade and other agreements that try to promote equality and protect our earth can just as easily be used as weapons of manipulation. Already stocks in Defense/Weapons companies are up and stocks in Green Energy companies are down according to the Wall Street Journal.  The fact that Trumps foreign policy is mostly unknown means everyone is a bit nervous and that is an ideal situation if you are about to choose a new enemy, because whatever nations are not chosen will likely be so relived that they simply join in beating the chosen scapegoat.

A new enemy does not simply divert attention, it also places much greater pressure on dissidents to conform, to abandon their trivial differences in the light of the greater urgency of a real enemy. The choice becomes more black and white – are you either a patriot or an enemy.

A New Way of Being Human
Now what I have explored above is by no ways new – it is the way in which cultures have developed and nations have unified themselves since time immemorial.

It is also the process that Jesus exposed when He chose to suffer the violence of the principalities and powers, the government and religious institutions of his day, rather than conform to them. In this act of defiance he identified with the scapegoat to the extent that he became the scapegoat.

And if he simply died and remained dead … nothing would have changed. The age-old wisdom of loving your compatriots and hating your enemies, of uniting a nation through violence against an other, would have remained in tact. But in the resurrection we are confronted with the reality that our conveniently chosen scapegoats might just be innocent! In fact, God might not be the one justifying our violence … but the one suffering it!

But the resurrected Jesus also brings a shocking new revelation. Retribution is not the only way of setting things right – it is possible to forgive! He introduces us to a way of being human that can heal both the victim and perpetrator of violence.

So what are the two ways of uniting a people?
One way is a manipulated unity. It’s a unity achieved through enmity, an identity defined by who it is against. The scapegoating mechanism is highly effective in achieving such a manipulated unity. But unity brought about by enmity will always be fragile – it will always be under threat from the violence that birthed it.

What is the alternative?
As humans, two of our most instinctive desires are to belong and simultaneously to be distinct. These desires may seem contradictory … and indeed the balance between them might cause conflict, but it is exactly the harmony between these desires that can bring peace.

Otherness can be frightening and dangerous for it represents the unknown. We want enough otherness to intrigue us, but not so much as to scare us. Otherness, because it is unknown, has the potential to harm us.

Likeness can be frightening and dangerous too, for if someone is too much like me, they can replace me. As such, likeness can represent the disintegration of differentiation. When boundaries disintegrate it makes us uncomfortable. We want enough likeness to be comfortably familiar, but not too much likeness so as to lose our sense of uniqueness. Equality has the potential to eliminate us.

Despite these potential dangers, love is only possible when both likeness and otherness are present. God is the most surprisingly beautiful encounter with otherness and likeness one can ever have. (Desire Found Me)

There is a unity possible in which we recognize and respect the difference of another, in which we do not require that all conform, but we rejoice in the difference. This can only happen when we are satisfied with what and who we are. In a place of dissatisfaction we will always view the difference of another with envy – wanting to attain it – or with fear, wanting to eliminate it.

It becomes easy to extend peace to another when we have found it in ourselves. This is obviously the more difficult route, for it requires that we understand both ourselves and the other.

Many Christians feel that their faith is under attack and their way of life under threat. There was a time when the disciples witnessed the brutal murder of their Messiah and hid away behind locked doors plotting where to run next. But Jesus enters their fear-filled room and says:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
(John 20:21–22 ESV)

Instead of plotting with them how to protect their little world, he opens up a whole new world to them – one not ruled by fear of the other, but one in which they are called to embrace the other and form a new community not defined by borders. I am so thankful for friends in the USA and all over the world who are pursuing unity in this way … and even against impossible odds it is the only way worth pursuing.

So can we have unity without an enemy? Wise men throughout ages have said something similar to this. Identify the enemy… within. Conquer that enemy and you won’t produce yet another victim – there will only be a victor!

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9 Responses to “Trump and a Unified USA – a Prophetic Vision.”

  1. Melinda on

    Thank you for writing this…I am wanting to be honoring and open to what you are saying here, and I agree with so many of your points..identifying the enemy within, Jesus entering the fear-filled room, embracing a world that is not ruled by fear, seeking to have unity without creating a “bad-guy”…I love these points, and I also know that no one can truly know what is going on in our nation unless they were to be a citizen, currently living it. I often read these kinds of words and feel that people don’t truly seek to understand before writing from an outside perspective–and it points out the problem without offering a clear answer–maybe the answer is mystical…I don’t know..? I live in this question…knowing that many of the prophetic voices here in the US have said some things that unveil what is happening right now in our nation in much different way…I think it is both…and there isn’t one clear answer…I do know that where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom and that the US has always been a lighthouse of freedom in the world. I know that He guides us to be light and salt in our spheres of influence, to lift oppression, to increase liberty, choices and that that goodness and jubilee creates an atmosphere in which His goodness can bring man to repentance—I think Christians often feel that the only way revival will come is if we don’t have freedom, or if we live in oppression…but I think it can come in flourishing blessing ad prosperity also..I don’t know the fix…other than to cling to my redeemed innocence and my unity with Him Who is my life and to let our union shine light everywhere …in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and all the world…it starts with me, right in my neighborhood, my community, my state and my nation–and then to the nations…I know many Christians deem patriotism as immoral, and loving one’s country as idolatry. Maybe it is…? I know many Christians think that all Christians should be apolitical…Maybe we should…? I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that the Holy Spirit spoke to me clearly about Mr. Trump way before he even announced his candidacy…and He showed me how the Lord would use his leadership in our nation and around the world…I don’t think what HE plans is for evil…but for good…I think people are so full of fear in our nation right now, that the rebuilding and restructuring of our Nation is going to be a good thing…What has just taken place in our nation is a miracle, truly and has not happened for almost 100 years. I think blessing Israel is vital for all Christians. I think setting healthy boundaries to take care of your own wounded, hurting and orphaned people is vital..these have been overlooked and cast off for far too long…I think standing for the life and right to life of the unborn baby in the womb is vital for us as believers in the Life Giver Himself…anyway…its muddled for me…I am full of so many thoughts and desires, hopes and wishes…I am thankful that He uses the mess of our insecurities and fears to show His strong, unconditional love and mercy and goodness to us and that no matter what I always get to be one with Him. Thank you, again.

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  2. Reuben on

    Yes, I’m an American. We must continue the journey of uniting ourselves freely from within without an external enemy or without a scapegoat. This hard work requires acknowledging our challenges as a people and also knowing/understanding about self and others. The fluid dynamic of differences between the victim-victor union can be approached as an opportunity to bring healing, forgiveness, and atonement without paybacks. Victims will see themselves as victors and victors will see themselves as victims. We will then be at one sans borders, walls of division, or barriers to love. Forgiveness trumps retribution. Game over.
    Loving enemies is possible when we see ourselves reflected in the One we behold.

    Reply
  3. steve on

    Great word Andre.

    Whilst the US has stood in solidarity in its patriotism and nationalism, the rest of the world has been subject to its blame, scapegoating and insatiable hunger for war. Now that the US enters a season of disarray, the challenge for the rest of the world, will be, not to rise up and take revenge. Even us kiwis have felt the money hungry fire breathing dragon down our necks. The US spy policy, TPPA and extradition has made us all in Kiwi land fear what is next. Not to mention every other country USA has invaded.

    Whilst the American stands proud under his or her flag, patriotic and all that BS, they have scapegoated the rest of the world.

    As for the prophetic mumbo jumbo we have heard coming out of the religious dung heaps, even in our country, I scarce can take it in. The US may see themselves as light to the world, but to most of us Australian and NZ’rs, the war mongering USA has made us into the devil incarnate. We don’t see US as innovative or leaders in this world. We see the US as belligerent tyrants.

    There is a great lesson in the tower of babel narrative we must heed. Solidarity, unity, does not come by enforcing your will upon all peoples. Oneness doesn’t blossom under arrogance, nor will community be able to be community if is isn’t allowed to express itself differently, culturally, in dress and language. What we need is Pentecost, where unity is manifested regardless the various tongues that gather.

    We “others” pray for mercy, we pray something radical shifts, because if it doesn’t, whatever hideous creature US manifests itself to be, will in turn have grave implications on the rest of “us”.

    Reply
  4. Andre on

    Very brave to speak the truth Andre!

    I know (and you do) that it is not easy to see the truth about your country, people and policies when you live in it. That is why a prophet is not received amongst his own people or put in another way people caught up in the mimetic cycle struggle to hear another point of view.

    Growing up in the old Apartheid South Africa I did not realise how evil our system was until I met difference or someone from a different culture.

    We also believed God’s blessing was on what we were doing and we too believed in a loving God. The contradiction in our minds between what we believed and did we surprised and I hope Americans wake up to this.

    What I would recommend to all Americans that are fortunate enough is to travel to other countries and live the way they do (not a touristy holiday).

    Encounter difference and the beauty that can unfold in you.

    God bless America!

    Reply
  5. Andre on

    Very brave to speak the truth Andre!

    I know (and you do) that it is not easy to see the truth about your country, people and policies when you live in it. That is why a prophet is not received amongst his own people or put in another way people caught up in the mimetic cycle struggle to hear another point of view.

    Growing up in the old Apartheid South Africa I did not realise how evil our system was until I met difference or someone from a different culture.

    We also believed God’s blessing was on what we were doing and we too believed in a loving God. The contradiction in our minds between what we believed and did we surprised and I hope Americans wake up to this.

    What I would recommend to all Americans that are fortunate enough is to travel to other countries and live the way they do (not a touristy holiday).

    Encounter difference and the beauty that can unfold in you.

    God bless America!

    Reply
  6. Cindy Terry on

    So True, Andre…someone must be to blame…in human thinking. Here in the streets they are shouting “LOVE TRUMPS HATE!”, and I think, OH YES, HE DOES! LOVE ALWAYS HOPE,
    ALWAYS BELIEVES, ALWAYS WINS! Prayers for LOVE and UNITY<3 O Lord, that I may be part of a UNITY of YOUR LOVE…

    Reply
  7. Andre Rabe on

    Thanks for all the thoughts friends. There is so much to love about the USA and every nation. The problem is that evil often finds its best disguise under our greatest ideals. And so violence is justified by our love for family/community.
    Obviously it is our hope that friendship between all would be encouraged and scapegoating eradicated … in the short term I’m not that optimistic that it would be the path chosen, but ultimately that is the direction we are striving for.

    Reply
  8. Mathieu on

    Wow… good stuff my brother. That s helpfull. We really need our eyes to be opened… so we can enjoyed His love and be in peace to be… peamakers all around.

    Reply

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