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A Morning Prayer on an Historical Day

Max Stearns

Following Hope Hicks's positive COVID diagnosis, both President and Mrs. Trump have also been diagnosed with COVID.

In law, there is a doctrine called double-effects. A physician treating a terminally ill patient in significant pain may prescribe high dose morphine, or other pain-treating medicines, for the purpose of palliative care, thereby improving patient comfort, notwithstanding that the anticipated secondary effect is to hasten the patient's death. A second, and related, legal concept holds that awareness of an adverse consequence does imply a motivation to bring that adverse consequence about.

In both Jewish law and as a personal matter of moral belief, which although they do not always coincide for this secular Jewish man do in this instance, it is immoral to wish anyone to become ill, to suffer when they are ill, or to die. I likewise believe it is immoral to pray, or even hope, for such an outcome even against individuals we disdain. And yes, I take this commitment seriously. This underscores for me two important professional obligations. I believe physicians have a duty to properly treat even those whose personal views they find reprehensible. Likewise, I believe that even the most reprehensible actor is entitled to the effective assistance of counsel. I also take these professional obligations seriously.

I do not believe it is against Jewish law, and it is not against my personal moral beliefs, to pray that in all their profound complexity, political events unfold in whatever peaceful and lawful manner is most apt to improve the prospect of bringing an end to this vile presidential administration, thereby improving the prospect of a kinder, gentler United States, and of a meaningful role for our nation in this deeply troubled world. Those who read my posts know that I am personally persuaded this can only come about with a Biden/Harris victory. I will add one final observation: I am quite certain that Joe Biden is more likely to prevail were he to run against Mike Pence and that the sitting Vice President would not engage in the sorts of threats, strategies, or tactics, claiming such a result illegitimate or trying to thwart that result, as Trump has made plain he clearly intends.

I do not wish or pray for harm on anyone, and this includes President and Mrs. Trump and others who have contracted COVID in the Trump administration. I am aware that the following offer of prayer might correlate with that as a consequence, but that is not my wish and that is not my prayer. And yes, every word of this post is sincere.

I pray that events unfold lawfully, without violence, and in a manner that is most apt to ensure that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prevail, and that the results of the election are accepted as yet another example, defining the best of our democracy, of the peaceful transition of power.

I welcome your comments.


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