Ride Out With Me

King Theoden: “What can men do against such reckless hate?” Aragorn: “Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Sam: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

“The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

That’s a lot of quotes I know, and nerdy ones at that. However, every one of them rings true in our time.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday and Donald Trump won the majority of the states for the Republicans. I found it hard to believe, all the while knowing it was going to happen. Something in the pit of my stomach knew it was going to go this way.

Ever notice how all good stories have that moment of absolute despair?

In the best stories, such as The Lord of the Rings, there is a moment of absolute hopelessness when all seems to be lost. When it actually becomes hard to read further because you can’t imagine how it could get any better.

This may be that very time in our country’s history. The darkest hour when all seems lost. Unfortunately, the old adage “it’ll get worse before it gets better” may also be true. Just like the rotten feeling in my gut that made me think Donald Trump would win Super Tuesday, something in me wouldn’t be surprised to see him go all the way. I’ve seen the angry mobs that cheer at his rallies. The man can literally say anything and not be held accountable to it. He is the king narcissist in a society that has been grooming him for just such an occasion.

Ever think about where social media and reality TV have been leading us? Making celebrities of people who have no business being celebrities. Giving room for anyone to think they should be known, or that they should be the next big thing… or maybe the next president of the United States.

I should note that the irony is not lost on me that I am writing this on my presidential Facebook page. The main difference being that I am willing to acknowledge that I know literally nothing about leading a country. I’m just waiting for a good man to step up to the plate, and if no good men will step up then put me in the game coach.

Which brings me to the question, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”
“Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.”

If all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, then I want to do something.

I’ve been thinking all day about what is the role of good men in times like this. It’s to step up and do something yes, but what is the something? How does a nobody from the village of Saranac, Michigan go about doing anything that makes a difference?

It’s strange to have started this Facebook page. I feel deluded and desperate at the same time. “I can’t believe that no one better is stepping up. Maybe I could be the one.” It sounds absolutely nuts I realize. But what if it’s not necessarily the presidency that I’m stepping up to? What if it’s just a timid voice that decides to speak in the middle of a crowd that’s been scared into sitting silently?

Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe it’s you too. It’s stirring in the hearts of many right now. I’ve had a few conversations with others already who are trying to find the answers to the same questions. If it’s stirring in your heart then join us. We’ll figure this out together.

My heart tells me that love is the answer. In that moment of utter despair in all the good stories, love is what turns it around. Not anger, fear, or hatred.

Love, courage, faith, hope. These make good stories. Along with them comes sacrifice. This is not easy. In all the good stories, the good guys may win, but it comes at great costs and sacrifices. There will be no easily won victories.

It may seem dramatic, but think about the times we live in. These days will be talked about for a long time to come. How America responds to Donald Trump will be mourned or celebrated for generations to come I think. We will either regret our ignorance and inability to listen to our hearts, or we will celebrate the day we stepped up to reject hatred, anger, and fear. We will learn to be courageous, or we will wallow in our cowardice.

We will unite, or we will fall.

Is this epic sounding enough yet? I want to be part of good stories. I want my life to be a good story. When I die I want my children to know that I loved them deeply, I want my wife to know that she was the only one for me, and I want the world to know that I cared. I want to have contributed something to the unfolding of history that points people to something bigger.

We are not alone.
We are all equal.
We are all loved.
We are all cherished.

Jesus Christ on the cross. The Hope of humanity nailed to a Roman crucifix, bleeding out and breathing his last. He doesn’t call down power from Heaven. He lets death take him. All hope is lost. His followers go into hiding, afraid for their own lives, struggling to believe that their friend who was called the Savior of the world was now dead.
Until he wasn’t.

He gave Himself up for the love of us all. It wasn’t easy. It was hard, and it was terrifying. But He was part of the best story. The sun rose on the third day at the same time he did.

Guess what…? He’s calling us to the same thing. Let’s be part of better stories.

Disclaimer: I am no expert in politics. I am a simple man who sees the field of candidates available to us and finds it lacking. I can not in good conscience vote for any of these people, or at least the people who look to be the ones getting the nominations from their respective parties. I fully accept that I may not have details or a general understanding of how some systems work. Please extend me some grace as most of this is just me processing my own thoughts and coming to more concrete opinions and beliefs on the many topics that face us today.

Vote for Rick Hopkins For President.
https://www.facebook.com/rickhopkinsforpresident/

The Politics Of Preservation

So to start out… I’m sort of running for President of the United States. If you’re looking for an alternative choice this election season, please write me in. I’ll do my best. Check out my Facebook page…

https://www.facebook.com/rickhopkinsforpresident/

Last night I wrote up this post. Let me know your thoughts.

———-
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
– Frederick Buechner

This quote has been rattling in my head for the past year or so. Every time there is breaking news of another shooting, or ISIS performs some horrific act on video for the world to see, when death takes another friend, when natural disasters strike some part of the world wreaking havoc, death and destruction… when the current crew of political candidates take the stage.

Don’t be afraid.

The current political climate is one where fear, anger, and hatred are used to push people into embracing the politics of self preservation. It’s causing us to embrace the worst parts of ourselves. It’s modeled for us in how the candidates talk about each other, how they interact with their followers, and in their policies and beliefs.

We have fallen to fear. Anger and hatred descend from fear. It is the root.

Don’t be afraid.

I don’t wish to dance around the elephant in the room much longer. Donald Trump is unlike any other presidential candidate I’ve seen in my life. He says whatever he wants, and no one seems to hold him accountable. He is bold and brash, careless and merciless, graceless and clumsy, speaks too quickly and thinks too slowly. He uses fear, anger, and hatred as only a salesman could to convince people that he has the answers and that we need to buy whatever he’s selling.

He’s selling himself and he is a reflection of us.

Our tendencies are to react with anger when we’re wronged, to react with fear when we are threatened, and react with hatred to those who think differently. So here is the kicker. He thinks differently than me. The people who follow him think differently than I do.

Don’t be afraid.

All my life I’ve tried my best to be a follower of Christ. Many of you who read this will say the same thing. Some of you won’t, and that’s ok. I’m not here to preach. But indulge me for a moment please.

The words of Christ call us to fight against our natural tendencies of fear, anger, hatred, and self preservation. They call us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. His words call us to kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, and over all of these, love.

Even Donald Trump is a child of God. Hard to believe, but it’s true. He’s a shining example of the prodigal son, pre-return to the father whose face he spat in. If you have a hard time hearing that you may be the older brother who got mad when the Father welcomed the prodigal back. Only the prodigal hasn’t returned yet. He’s still off doing what he wants and feeding pigs. I realize the metaphor is getting thick at this point, but what I’m trying to say is that Donald Trump is just as broken as you or I. You may think you are better than he is, but you are not. If I’ve learned anything over the course of my life it is that any one of us is capable of allowing our brokenness to become who we are instead of allowing our sonship in God to be our identity.

Please don’t hear me wrong, I will not be voting for Donald Trump and honestly I hope you don’t either. In fact I wonder if not voting for Donald Trump is possibly the most loving thing we can do for him. If we’re called to love him, maybe public humiliation in defeat is the best thing we can do.

The bigger part of my argument is this: Don’t vote for a man who feeds on your fear of what the world could do to you. Don’t vote for a man who brings out the worst in you. But also, don’t hate the man who stands against you. Don’t hate.

Don’t be afraid.

“The New Colossus” was a sonnet written by American poet Emma Lazarus read at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I don’t place this here to convince you of immigration policies, but rather to show you that at one time the United States stood for hope. At one time the United States was a beacon to the lost, the hurting, and the hopeless. The promise of a better life was here safe from harm, hurt, and hate. I’m not sure if it ever measured up to that, but it could if we could get our acts together. If we could stop responding to everything out of fear, anger, and hatred.

Don’t be afraid.

Don’t fear the man who shouts loudest. Don’t fear what may happen if he wins. Don’t fear what may happen if he loses, and some other candidate you disagree with wins. More than likely you will wake up the next morning and breathe the air, see the sun rise, go to work, and live your life like you did before.

Love your enemies.
Don’t hate.
Don’t be afraid.

It’s not easy by any means, but necessary for actual change to begin working into the world.

Oh and by the way, I’m running for president 🙂 You can vote for me.

Disclaimer: I am no expert in politics. I am a simple man who sees the field of candidates available to us and finds it lacking. I can not in good conscience vote for any of these people, or at least the people who look to be the ones getting the nominations from their respective parties. I fully accept that I may not have details or a general understanding of how some systems work. Please extend me some grace as most of this is just me processing my own thoughts and coming to more concrete opinions and beliefs on the many topics that face us today.