“It’s interesting how we can be presented repeatedly with the same…content, but fail to grasp many aspects until some later date. It’s all a matter of where we are at any given time and what we are open to accepting or understanding.” ~ E. Paul Zehr, Ph.D.
I am a firm believer that life itself gives us the teachings we need in order to put our feet on higher ground.
Little did I expect that such a teaching would come as a result of Donald Trump.
Trump—with his larger-than-life, balls-to-the-wall, egoism, hatred, misogyny, xenophobia and vacuous thinking—has put some things in perspective for me in a way that a more, shall we say, sane, candidate might not have done.
All I had to do was accept the fact that the teacher doesn’t always wear a halo, and to remember that nothing has kept my world more narrow than thinking I already knew everything I needed to know on a particular subject.
Following a good deal of mindful examination, here is what I have learned from Trump and his campaign:
The sheer number of Trump followers demonstrates that there are a lot of people in this country who feel stuck, unheard, and unaddressed by the the government. While there is also an ugly side to some in this demographic, I learned that they do not comprise the whole.
There are still those who so desperately need and want things to change that they have hitched their wagon to the only star that appears to be able to make a path in the sky for them.
My heart goes out to this portion of Trump’s electorate that doesn’t feel as empowered as even I do, and whose frustrations and dissatisfactions have been largely unmet over the past many years.
According to one source:
“[Trump voters agree with the statement], ‘People like me don’t have any say about what the government does.’ […] This feeling of powerlessness and voicelessness [is] a much better predictor of Trump support than age, race, educational attainment, income, attitudes towards Muslims, illegal immigrants, or Hispanic identity.”
By watching the response of Trump’s fellow Republicans to him and his campaign style, I have learned that there are true Republicans—Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and ordinary citizens—who are not merely the ultra-conservative ideologues appearing on Fox News or on conservative talk radio. I have had my eyes opened to the fact that there are those who embrace and value the core beliefs of the Republican Party:
- Each person is responsible for their own place within society;
- The government’s role is to enable the people to secure the benefits of society for themselves, their families, and for those who are unable to do so;
- The Government should be limited in its intervention in the work of the individual towards prosperity; and
- The government should be kept as close to the individual as possible, and should be focused mainly on the state and community level, not centered at a federal level.
My practice of automatically dismissing Republicans and their party—or of lumping them in with the kind of Republican Trump appeared to be—was small-minded of me, separated me from others and kept me from learning and broadening my own perspective.
Trump’s barrage of vacuous, hateful comments and behavior towards women prompted me to recognize not only what I myself have had to overcome my entire life, but what Hillary Clinton has had to overcome as well.
When I saw Trump stalking Clinton on the stage at the second Presidential Debate, I recognized how it felt to have a man bigger than me and stronger than me hovering over me in a subtle but threatening way—whether it was mentally or physically.
That scene alone caused me to realize just how often I have had that feeling of implied threat and I salute Clinton—not for her politics or for anything she has done in her public life—but for her in-the-moment grace under fire and for having the courage to stand her ground.
I had previously thought of Clinton as an automaton. Her calm surety and poise in the second debate in contrast to Trump’s boorish/bullying (boorish, bullying) behavior, brought her to life for me in a way I hadn’t seen before. Clinton, a woman who has made her fair share of mistakes and missteps—just as I have—made me feel proud to be a woman.
A very wise man once told me, “If you want to open your mind and heart through the practice of compassion, pick the people and things you have the least compassion for.”
Like I said.
Not all teachers wear halos.
Thank you Mr. Trump.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Caitlin Oriel