I am trying every day to be a better person, and Mr. Trump is helping me do that. I was convinced during the campaign he would never receive the nomination. I remember saying with some certitude the Republicans would never let him obtain the nomination. As is often the case, I was wrong. With almost equal certitude, I was convinced the American public would not vote for Mr. Trump. Once again, I was wrong.
His election and his time in office have caused me deep reflection and more than a little anxiety. Like many, I’ve gone through a range of emotions: anger, fear and frustration. Here are just two of the lessons I have learned from Mr. Trump that are helping me become more of the person I want to be:
1. Kindness begins with me.
2. The truth matters.
First, kindness begins with me.
Watching Mr. Trump’s poor behavior made me reflect on my own personal conduct. When do I attack people for my own gain? Do I say things in private I wouldn’t want to be heard publicly? Do I view people as a means to an end? His campaign and election have caused me reflection on my own interactions with others. I’ve tried hard to be kind on social media, to listen to other peoples’ perspectives, to resist name-calling, and bullying. I, of course, am not perfect, but I am working on it. I cannot control how the president treats other people, but I can control the way I treat other people.
The Trump campaign was punctuated by heated rhetoric, character attacks, personal insults, dismissiveness, bullying, and a host of other sad and inappropriate behavior. Here is a brief summary of how he has used twitter to attack and bully.
Second, the truth matters.
From the day Mr. Trump announced his intention to run for president, his campaign, and now administration, have consistently and repeatedly engaged in falsehoods. Here is a list of false hoods. Watching this day-in-and-day-out is frustrating to say the least. Yet, regardless of how many pithy, late-night talk show clips, or snarky memes I share on social media, that will not change his behavior or persuade those who are supportive of Mr. Trump to acknowledge his dishonesty. What I can do is reflect on my own conduct and behavior. This reflection has been painful. I have found areas in my own life where I stretch the truth to serve my own ends. It’s hypocrisy on my part to cry foul on the President’s ubiquitous dishonesty and not reflect on my own shortcomings with the truth.
Complaining and criticizing isn’t helping. I do not want to just “pace the rage” or tune out altogether because it is too complex or too frustrating. As I’ve written about before I want to change the world by changing me first. So, in reality, Mr. Trump, you are helping me be a better person. I am reflecting more on my own life and values and trying to make necessary changes. Of course, I still think it is important to engage in the political process, to denounce the wildly inappropriate behavior we see coming from the White House, and work together in positive ways to build “a more perfect union.” So, Mr. Trump, thank you. I am more interested now than I have ever been in building bridges of common understanding. I am more engaged in the political process than I have been in nearly 20 years. Your example of moral character has awakened something in me to do more, learn more, engage more, and to be more than I am now.