Four months ago, Donald Trump’s name was enough to instantly ignite my body’s fight-or-flight response, increase my heart rate 20 beats per minute and dilate my pupils.
The fear and the anger consumed me. I imagined ignorant white bigots jumping up and down, not listening to a single misplaced or poorly chosen word coming from Mr. Trump’s mouth. In my opinion, they were everything wrong with humanity—close minded and violent, averse to diversity and equality. I was certain if he became president, World War III would ensue before his term was over.
I found myself visiting the old man’s Facebook page and wanting to “unfriend” every person who had liked it. I almost cried when news came that Donald Trump won the primary in my home state of Tennessee, literally. I called my mother reluctantly, bounded by fear, praying she wouldn’t tell me she voted for him too. I hit my breaking point when I caught myself giving dirty looks to the guy driving the jacked-up 90’s jeep at the gas station with the “Trump 2016” decal spreading his entire back windshield. Instantly, this guy was the enemy and I wanted to punch him. I wanted him to see me giving him dirty looks as I pumped my super-unleaded gasoline so it could go down right there in the middle aisle, between Pumps 3 and 6. Within seconds I had this guy stereotyped and categorized on the other side. The desire to cut him off in my tiny 2014 Crossover and shove my Equality and Coexist bumper stickers in his face was a sign that I was at the precipice of uncontrollable.
I had suddenly become everything I believed they were representing—hate, anger, ignorance.
All that I stood behind and promoted took a back seat to the actions I wanted so desperately to carry-out. I was fearful, and I was angry. I mindfully watched myself as I was able, for the most part, to keep it contained in public but silently rage and unnerve my partner with my own bursts of hate-filled antics.
It took a handful of intense silences filled with slow and conscious breaths to remind myself that long before my volunteer management of elephant journal’s Equal Rights for All Facebook page, the 2016 presidential campaign and my uncharacteristic rage towards the blonde haired republican, I had made a commitment to a mindful life. I made a commitment to remain present with my emotions and allow them to process without spewing more hatred and anger out into the world.
The importance of remaining mindful and present had more easily taken precedence for years up until now.
I became acutely aware of my hypocritical actions the day I glared down a Trump supporter with gas handle in hand, but it took me many weeks of mindful observation to release the anger and fear. What was I really afraid of? What was under all these raw emotions?
The easy part was keeping my mouth shut when I felt the anger rising to the surface but that did little to combat the collective consciousness building around my former adversary’s campaign on an energetic level. I could keep my mouth shut all I wanted, but I was still emanating a frequency in sync with these emotions I was struggling to hide.
I needed to understand my own ignorance.
Why were there so many people supporting this man who spoke of building walls and repeatedly insulted minorities and women? What did they see in him that I was not willing or able to see that lead them to believe he would be the best choice for this country? I opened my own mind, and as the fires began to wane after several weeks to a month or more, I was able to actually have a fate-found conversation with someone who supported Mr. Trump and listened with the intent to understand.
This gentleman and I built a bridge not a wall.
My life lesson came full circle last week when I found myself searching older YouTube videos of a different Trump personality than currently portrayed in the news and social media. I saw videos of him from over a decade ago raising women up and heard stories of him passing out one-hundred dollar bills to kitchen staff in restaurants while he was out dining. I listened to testimonies of how “good” his kids were and grew up to be; I googled them to find scarce character-degrading headlines. It was in this moment, that the embers of the once raging fires were snuffed out; I had compassion for my aforementioned nemesis.
Do I believe that Mr. Trump is the best choice for this country? Absolutely not. I feel the Bern now more than ever. But my inaugural journey into the political waters has expanded my knowledge base and grounded my somewhat idealistic tendencies.
I learned what it truly meant to live in diversity with and among people with whom I had strong opposing beliefs. I had learned what I had set out to teach—acceptance.
Although, my intentions were on Donald Trump not becoming president, I was still investing my energy into the brash and non-traditional candidate. Not only did I learn acceptance, but through self-awareness and mindfulness, I was able to pull myself back from the collective madness and put my energy into the things I did want to see and be an exemplary proponent of peace and diversity.
Author: Dottie Hollingsworth
Editor: Caitlin Oriel