A prayer for our coun­try

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Ruth Marcus is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group. Ruth Marcus Colum­nist

On Satur­days in syn­a­gogues across the United States, Jews re­cite a “Prayer for Our Coun­try.”

Our God and God of our an­ces­tors: We ask Your bless­ings for our coun­try — for its gov­ern­ment, for its lead­ers and ad­vis­ers, and for all who ex­er­cise just and right­ful au­thor­ity. Teach then insights from Your To­rah that they may ad­min­is­ter all af­fairs of state fairly, that peace and se­cu­rity, hap­pi­ness and pros­per­ity, jus­tice and free­dom may for­ever abide in our midst.

Un­til Don­ald Trump’s run for the pres­i­dency, this mo­ment in the li­turgy felt like boil­er­plate. It was a nice ex­pres­sion of pa­tri­o­tism; cer­tainly, in the edgy days af­ter Sept. 11, our coun­try felt in need of joint and fer­vent prayer. But its ex­hor­ta­tions to jus­tice and tol­er­ance seemed su­per­flu­ous. No one could dis­agree with them.

Un­til Trump, and Trump’s di­vi­sive rhetoric, up­ended the as­sump­tion that politi­cians of both par­ties share an es­sen­tial plat­form of agree­ment on mat­ters of ba­sic de­cency, of re­spect for those of other re­li­gions and back­grounds.

And un­til Trump’s elec­tion made the Prayer for Our Coun­try all the more rel­e­vant — and all the more im­per­a­tive.

Cre­ator of all flesh, bless all the in­hab­i­tants of our coun­try with Your spirit. May ci­ti­zens of all races and creeds forge a com­mon bond in true har­mony, to ban­ish ha­tred and big­otry and to safe­guard the ideals and free in­sti­tu­tions that are the pride and glory of our coun­try.

Ban­ish­ing ha­tred and big­otry? Think of Trump on Mex­i­can rapists flood­ing into the coun­try; on a “Mex­i­can” judge sup­pos­edly dis­qual­i­fied by rea­son of his back­ground from fairly hear­ing a case; on call­ing for a “to­tal and com­plete shut­down” of Mus­lims en­ter­ing the coun­try; on dis­re­spect­ing Gold Star Mus­lim par­ents (“His wife ... maybe she wasn’t al­lowed to have any­thing to say”). Think of Trump mock­ing a dis­abled re­porter, de­mean­ing women for their looks, as­sert­ing his free­dom to “grab them by the p---y.”

Safe­guard­ing ideals and free in­sti­tu­tions? Think of Trump on “open[ing] up our li­bel laws.” On or­der­ing tor­ture (“I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than wa­ter­board­ing”). On en­cour­ag­ing vi­o­lence at his ral­lies (“Knock the crap out of them.” “I’d like to punch him in the face.”). On lock­ing up his op­po­nent (“You’d be in jail”) or in­cit­ing vi­o­lence against her (“If she gets to pick her judges — noth­ing you can do folks. Although the Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple. Maybe there is.”). On re­fus­ing to com­mit to re­spect­ing the out­come of a demo­cratic elec­tion, and reck­lessly sug­gest­ing that it would be “rigged.”

May this land, un­der Your prov­i­dence be an in­flu­ence for good through­out the world, unit­ing all peo­ple in peace and free­dom — help­ing them to ful­fill the vi­sion of Your prophet: “Na­tion shall not lift up sword against na­tion, nei­ther shall they ex­pe­ri­ence war any more.”

An in­flu­ence for good through­out the world? Think of Trump on NATO, threat­en­ing to ab­ro­gate treaty obli­ga­tions un­less coun­tries ante up, and that he would only de­fend the Baltic states against a Rus­sian in­va­sion if they have “ful­filled their obli­ga­tions to us.” Think of Trump’s cozy­ing up with Vladimir Putin (“at least he’s a leader”). Think about Trump on stand­ing up to Turkey or other regimes re­press­ing democ­racy and hu­man rights. “I don’t know that we have a right to lec­ture,” he told the New York Times. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is and then we go and talk about civil lib­er­ties, I don’t think we’re a very good mes­sen­ger.”

Nei­ther shall they ex­pe­ri­ence war any more? Think of Trump reck­lessly sug­gest­ing that South Korea and Ja­pan — maybe even Saudi Ara­bia — should be al­lowed to de­velop nu­clear weapons. Think of Trump’s boast­ful as­ser­tion that “I know more about ISIS than the gen­er­als do, be­lieve me.”

Now Trump has been elected, which means he will be ex­er­cis­ing, in the words of the prayer, “right­ful au­thor­ity” — au­thor­ity that the vot­ers granted him, even if he would not have ac­cepted the out­come had it gone against him.

Whether Trump’s ten­ure will be just is an­other mat­ter. That re­mains a dan­ger­ously open ques­tion about which we can only pray for our coun­try, more fer­vently than ever. And hope that our other lead­ers, in Congress and the courts, will be strong enough to safe­guard our ideals and free in­sti­tu­tions.

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