No-one is perfect. Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. Admitting that is a foundation for building tolerance and understanding.
When asked whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness, Donald Trump replied that he had not, saying in an interview with CNN that he does not regret never asking God for forgiveness, because he doesn’t have much to apologise for.
For Christians marking the start of Lent, those words will sound a little odd. The Bible says clearly “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Even more importantly, it says that if we claim to be perfect we make God out to be a liar!
So, whatever he says, Donald Trump is a sinner in need of God’s help. But here’s the thing: I can’t claim to be any better; I’m a sinner, too, as much in need of God’s forgiveness as anyone else, in fact. So, too, are you – and I am not saying that in order to make you feel bad about yourself, but to make this important point: When we recognise that we are not perfect it helps us to accept other people, with all their faults. And that is the start of being tolerant and generous towards others.
All faiths have times of penitence and reflection, of course. For Christians, Lent started on 1 March this year. This year, it might be a good thing if we used Lent to reflect on how we might show a bit of humility and patience in our dealings with each other. Instead of decrying how the other side voted in the referendum, how about trying to understand why they felt that way? Instead of worrying about your own community, how about finding out what life is like for others? And instead of claiming always to be right, how about accepting that you might just have got things wrong occasionally?
None of us is perfect, but looking for the best in each other is worth the effort. So let’s give it a go. God knows, the world could do with some tolerance and understanding right now.