MLK in the Age of Trump

MLK in the Age of Trump

At the MLK celebration service I attended on Monday, it occurred to me how fortunate we are to have the prophetic example of Martin Luther King to help guide us in this time of division and bitterness, to a place of understanding, respect and love even for those with whom we strongly disagree.

Nancy Pelosi was asked recently if she hated the president. She replied, “I don’t hate the president. I’m a Catholic. I pray for the president. I pray for the president every day.”

Wow, that’s powerful. After all the nasty things that have been said about her, she tells the world she “prays for the president.”

As a Christian, that’s what Dr. King actually called us to do. “Love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you.”
That’s hard, but it’s doable, even for me. I figured if MLK could ask African Americans living in the deep south to pray for the people denying them the right to vote, to an equal education, to a seat at a lunch counter and attacking them with billy clubs, dogs and fire hoses, maybe I should try it?

A friend once told me, “If you resent someone, pray for them. Pray that they may find happiness and peace and joy and love every time you think of them in a negative light.” He said my resentment toward them would be lifted even if their behavior doesn’t change.

About 6 months ago, I actually did start to pray for the president, but I admit, it took a while. Initially I could only feel anger and resentment toward the man who pushed the lie about Obama’s birth certificate in media outlets at every opportunity.

But I did it. “God, I really think the president is a sick man. I pray he finds happiness and peace and joy and love.” And honestly, it’s working. My personal resentment toward DT has subsided considerably. Even though he has not dramatically changed, I have.

As the impeachment trial and election season heats up, there’s been an additional twist to my prayers for the president: “God, I pray the president may find happiness and peace and joy and love, and please God help me, help him, find another job. But most importantly, Thy Will, Not Mine, Be Done.”

If Americans are going to help improve the political and cultural climate in the country, we cannot be angry, bitter or hateful. We need to be calm, centered, confident and disciplined. We already have calamity; we need serenity. Serenity does not mean complacency, MLK was anything but complacent. He walked the talk to an unprecedented degree.

Thank you, Dr. King, and all those who walked with him for your inspiring and courageous power of example.

Happy MLK Day
Jimmy Tingle

Jimmy Tingle will perform next at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, on February 29, 2020. See

Jay Gonzalez’s proposed tax on universities is on point- by Jimmy Tingle

Democratic candidate for governor Jay Gonzalez’s campaign promise to levy a 1.6% tax on the endowments of nine large Massachusetts universities is an innovative way to increase funding for state education and transportation. The tax would only apply to institutions with endowments of over a billion dollars based on the average of last 5 years. It raises a billion dollars in badly needed revenue that will benefit all taxpayers without raising individual taxes.

Critics argue that 1.6% tax on endowments over a billion dollars would hurt the schools – Harvard University, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Williams College, Amherst College, Tufts University, Smith College, and Wellesley College, in their ability to provide scholarships to deserving students. However, the larger issue is the goal of providing high quality public education to the millions of Massachusetts public school students who will never qualify to attend these elite universities, yet whose public school education is critical to their ability to fulfill their potential in their fields of choice.

The other benefit of the tax would be to increase spending on, and therefore the quality of, public transportation. Again, rather than hurting these universities, it would help the thousands of students, faculty members, and employees of those institutions who rely on public transportation to travel to school, work, and home again.

Harvard and MIT both fall on the Red Line. BU and BC are on the Green Line and Wellesley is on the commuter rail. Ask the students, professors, and employees which would be more valuable to them – a more affordable and dependable commute to school or work, or a larger endowment?

Western Massachusetts is in dire need of more efficient and extensive public transportation which would benefit Amherst College, Williams and Smith as well as the surrounding communities. More dependable public transportation would be an asset to all Massachusetts residents by reducing drive time, parking fees, and potential tickets. It would also serve as an economic engine to cities and towns, their businesses, employees and customers. Our environment would benefit with fewer cars on the road burning less fossil fuel.

I wholeheartedly acknowledge the great public benefit our universities provide the state, the country, and the world. However, the 1.6% tax will not significantly diminish the global impact of these institutions, and it is instead a practical way for Harvard, MIT, BU, BC, Wellesley, Amherst, Williams and Smith to put the larger goal of the “public good” ahead of the bottom line of their respective endowments.