By R U Bored
I don’t like Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him. And I can’t quite believe that he is soon to be the next president of the United States. How can anyone who has blatantly disrespected women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, human rights, the environment, political opponents, the president and the very system that has elected him, have anyone left to vote for him? I don’t understand how someone can get to the highest office of our nation while performing an ever-expanding list of nonsensical-to-verging-on-dangerous shenanigans, and spewing a vast array of self-conflicting statements. It’s as if he’s stretching every limit of every established norm to the max – testing, testing, testing to see how far he can go before we as a nation collectively say, “No, you can’t do that.”
I’m nervous. Concerned. Apprehensive about Trump being president. I don’t trust him. How can anyone trust or depend on someone who is not merely mercurial and impulsive in temperament, but downright erratic – almost completely unpredictable? We all need to feel safe to be healthy and productive. I don’t feel safe with Trump.
I thought I had handled it well – the tension, the viciousness of the campaign, and then the shock of the unexpected outcome. I didn’t cry, melt down, or do anything irrational or precipitous. I didn’t feel obviously depressed. But then I realized that I haven’t been sleeping well since the election. Not usually politically infused, I’ve been falling asleep at night viewing marathon T.V. news. Also, I gradually became aware of a dull, gnawing ache tugging in my gut – very, very subtle and very, very deep. It felt odd and new, yet strangely familiar. I observed it for days, wondering what it was.
Then I asked myself, “When have I felt this before?” and insight came instantly as I flashed back to my childhood, when, growing up with a bipolar mother and an alcoholic father, I lived in an extremely unpredictable environment, full of uncertainty and insecurity. I never knew what to expect next. Once I saw the connection between my current behavior and my past experience I realized I had unknowingly fallen back into a pattern of hyper-vigilance. I was trying to stay awake, watching T.V. because I was afraid I might miss something bad happening while I was asleep, leaving me unprotected from harm.
I didn’t like admitting this to myself. It meant that I could no longer hide behind my civilized word versions – nervous, concerned, apprehensive – of a more primal emotion, a real, raw feeling I had to identify as – fear. I surprised myself, in finding that my deepest, darkest, most disturbing thought was that, with Trump as president, the whole country might become like the chaotic house I grew up in. Once I consciously knew how much Trump’s behavior reminded me of my mother’s dramatic and damaging mood swings, I wondered, “Have we elected someone who is mentally ill to be the next president of the United States?”
Even if we have, the reality remains that he will most probably take office in January. So the faster those of us protesting can reconcile ourselves to it, and focus on going forward, the better. I know this, but, still struggling with my persistent resistance, I cleverly decide that I need not embrace Trump as president, only accept it, calling him the president, but not my president.
But I know better. I know that it’s only through connection with something or someone that we have any influence over it or them. Influence is power, and I don’t want to feel or be powerless in this situation. I don’t want to lose my chances for positive influence by denying a connection to this man I detest.
So I consider what that connection might be. What good can I see in him? Searching for something, anything at all, I recall a biography of him that I saw on my recent television-watching spree. It said that he had a brother who died of alcoholism, which made him resolve not to smoke, drink, or do drugs. So he doesn’t. And he raised his kids emphasizing that in their lives. That’s something I can admire in anyone.
I was content with that. And then one day, as I was voicing my opinions of Trump, someone said to me, “Remember, he’s here because he has lessons to learn. He’s evolving, too.” That thought really influenced me. The more I pondered it, the more I could see the spiritual implications of the whole world being affected by this election. Every one of us has lessons to learn from this experience. This perspective helps me feel more connected not just to Trump, but to everyone in the country and on the planet, and helps me realize that one person, no matter how powerful, can’t override the collective influence of everyone else.
I still don’t like Donald Trump. But I don’t dislike him as much. I still have strong feelings about his personality and his political tactics. I’ll try to balance that with giving him a chance to do positive things for America and the world.
Donald Trump doesn’t need to “Make America Great Again.” No one does. We are a great nation – always have been, potentially always will be. Because what makes America great is its guiding principles of freedom and democracy – and its people – the open-minded consideration, curiosity and creativity, and the open hearted compassion, kindness and generosity of its people.
Our greatest strengths are in our diversity, flexibility and ingenuity in the face of overwhelming challenges. We are at our best when tested, when we are reaching beyond previous achievements, inspired to ever-higher aspirations. Historically, again and again we have demonstrated an extraordinary capacity and ability to work, shoulder to shoulder, with those we don’t like, or disagree with, or don’t even know, toward worthy, positive, common goals. This is our signature characteristic, our defining quality of being Americans. This deep, lasting unity of spirit is something I can depend on, something I can truly trust. Can you?
If so, what a relief to know and feel that whatever comes our way, we can rely on each other to get us through to something previously unimagined, previously unconceived, but ever better, as we forge ahead together. And maybe sleep better, too.