I am having an incredibly hard time with our current U.S. president, Mr. Donald Trump.
I want to read the news and stay informed but I find it’s extremely difficult for me to neutrally peruse the abundance of news articles describing some recent policy development or statement made by Trump or one of his staff.
I appear to be unable to stay calm when his name comes up in conversation. I find myself getting easily upset, even with people who share my views. It’s almost a Pavlovian response: I hear the name “Trump” and suddenly I’m inflamed. Since I live about a 15-minute drive from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, have neighbors who work for the government, and subscribe to the “Washington Post,” this topic (and my response) occur often.
Interestingly, I’ve noticed that when my husband makes a statement about something Trump-related, for some reason, I automatically relate it to my parents. Just the other day, on the subject of the false Obama wire-tapping accusation, my husband said, “Who says things like that and gets away with it – and doesn’t even apologize?” To which I automatically replied, “My mother!”
Anyway, I’m well aware of my reactivity to Trump, and I’m curious about it. So I’ve decided to write about it. I will explore myself through the written word.
Well, for one thing, Trump reminds me of the worst in people. For me, his toxic rhetoric reveals the following about the one who now occupies the highest office in our land. He seems impulsive, judgmental, bigoted, grossly ignorant of basic facts and generally accepted ways of being in the world, and full of false bravado and toughness.
Mr. Trump appears to possess an inability to see others as human beings who need our compassion (at the very least), and perhaps even our assistance.
He reveals himself as a person who makes statements containing absolutes and black-and-white comparisons and wild embellishments that are typically untrue or only partially true. He appears to be an outright liar who spins his lies as truth. He clearly – at least to me – possesses a skewed view of reality that is frightening.
Trump seems to represent people who disliked, feared or mistrusted a smart black president who was open-minded, caring, fair – and not perfect.
Donald Trump seems to embody resistance to change, and to the world as it is currently evolving. He seems to represent people who want the world to go backwards 50 years in time, to when America was supposedly “great.” When we were a white, Christian majority fully entrenched in the patriarchy. When there were fewer immigrants and people of color in our communities, when women and blacks knew their “places” in the world, and globalization was probably an academic concept, rather than a daily reality. When life was wholly “simpler.”
To me, Trump embodies fear. Fear of people and things that are different, fear of change, fear of moving forward into the unknown, perhaps fear of a certain demographic group in our country (the baby boomers) becoming old and obsolete.
To me, Trump fully expresses and embodies the worst of my parents. Through him, and the fact that they have embraced him, I have a clear window into their shadow sides. That is, to the hidden parts of themselves to which they are (I suspect) wholly unconscious.
I think they are afraid of change, afraid of aging, afraid of the immigrants in their communities. I believe they are afraid to see their values, and ways of seeing and being in the world, going the way of the dinosaur.
So my parents resist, they are angry and they hate (though they deny it as devoted Catholics), they are skeptical, they mistrust, and they fight.
They are, in my opinion, quite literally fighting for their lives, and the way life was in our country.
I know they are fighting a losing battle and I feel for them.
To me, Trump just has shed daylight on all about our country that must be recognized and healed first, in order for us to freely move forward into our shared futures.
So, with these insights, I can literally feel my reactions to Trump relax. I know that my dislike of Trump is not really about Trump. At least not entirely. I have my answer, my gifts of understanding through the writing process, and I am grateful.
I see the parallels between Trump and my parents: that as I hope and pray for a wise president to lead us into the next four years, so I hope and pray for wise parents to lead and teach me about living in the world.
Yet my parents and Trump are simply who they are, and where they are in their respective growth and development as souls, and as human beings living in this world. Trump and my parents are people who deserve my compassion and acceptance. For it seems to me that the hidden fears and the ugliness that lives inside them must be simply terrible.
I only wonder whether a Trump presidency will help them feel better. If and when it doesn’t, what will they do next?
I can only hope and pray that they will practice self-inquiry.
I hope they will journey deeply into themselves and mine the gifts of such a practice.
I hope they will become willing do as I do: spend time studying themselves, explore and understand – both the darkness and the light that lives within us all.