This has not been easy, but over the last year, I have given President Trump the benefit of the doubt. There is often a learning curve in any occupation, and being President of the United States is right up there with parenting and sewage/sanitation worker as one of the toughest jobs in the world. During his first year in office, I have watched, I have listened, and I have learned. I’ve taken the time to observe his behavior and to build my own mindset and protective shield.
First of all, in the interest of transparency, I was not and, at this point, do not plan to be a Trump supporter. I would have preferred that Hillary Clinton had won. Her platform simply aligned more closely to my beliefs and outlook. Her defeat was a bone-crushing loss for me as it was for millions of others.
Nonetheless, I wanted to see how Trump would traverse through the steep learning curve of his ascendance. Maybe he would surprise me and be a leader that I did not know he was. At this point, here are the impressions I have gathered:
- He is often reactionary and defensive. Just read his twitter posts.
- He likes to elicit strong reactions from people and incite controversy. Again, look at his twitter posts, his engagement with North Korea being a prime example. Divisiveness is his M.O.
- He is often at odds with members of his own White House staff that he selected. The high turnover rate over the past year speaks for itself.
- Russia. In spite of his denial of any collusion, there are numerous reports from various valid sources that something has transpired or is ongoing. Whether it was a whole lot of a connection or very little, this is the monkey that cannot seem to get off his back.
- He thinks poorly of women. The recording of him talking to a friend about grabbing a woman’s genitalia just floored me. Women are more than just their genitalia, Mr. President. It is a sad commentary about the world we live in that a man such as this defeated a woman to obtain this job.
- He has no objection to using people’s lives as a bargaining chip for political gain. I am referring to his desire to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) if he does not get his border wall. Clearly, this is his way of playing hardball, and it may get him the result he wants. This behavior is unconscionable, and it leaves thousands of DACA recipients, many of whom are children, at the mercy of deportation and separation from their families and livelihood.
I could go on and on, but I have expressed all I want to say about my observations of this man.
The question I have left is this:
How do we live in the era of President Trump?
Well, I have a few simple suggestions.
- Become as informed as possible. Watch news and read articles from multiple sources. This will allow you to obtain a broader view of what is happening.
- Do not get your news from social media. Algorithms and, apparently, foreign countries like Russia can manipulate what you see on Facebook, for example. This feels like a form of mind control, and we owe it to ourselves to think independently both for ourselves and our children.
- Do not follow Trump’s example. Instead of being reactionary, be thoughtful and considerate. Respect women and all people (as well as everyone’s genitalia for that matter). If you disagree with someone at your job, don’t just fire them. Do the hard work that creates actionable solutions.
- Register to VOTE and then VOTE. If you do not use your voice, you have no power.
- Seek out leaders in your community who lead with compassion. These are leaders who prioritize people and their struggles over political gain and personal ambition. Lift them up in their campaigns and as they do their work. Think about President Trump and find the opposite of that. Pursue the opposite of that.
- Focus on coalition and community-building. As individuals, we can only do so much. If we build collaborative partnerships with groups of people who share your compassion and willingness to effect change, your power grows exponentially.
- Let compassion be your guide. DACA recipients are not a bargaining chip. They are innocent people and children who deserve kindness and the best of what humanity can give them.
Ultimately, we live in a time when we must step up to be better than and greater than we were before. We must seek out and lead with compassion. We must be more discerning than ever. We cannot be complacent.
There is a leader within each of us, whether we are guiding other people, our own friends and families, or ourselves.
If we collectively lift up and support the least of us—the downtrodden, the poor, the disabled, refugees, our immigrant neighbors and friends—our sum total is elevated. This simple math should guide us in these trying times.
Let’s go this way. Let’s live this way.
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