Donald Trump made me a better person. Yes, really, Let me explain.
I believe most people are essentially good, neither angels nor demons. I also believe that most people want what I want: a measure of happiness, good health, self-fulfillment and achievable goals. I am not setting myself up as the overseer of goodness, but I can’t stop thinking about the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ statement that I heard many times: “We are better than this.”
President Trump exposed, through almost everything that comes out of his mouth or ends up in his Twitter feed, all the loathsome qualities that a person can have: lying, misogyny, shaming, bullying and racism . While his base may have no trouble with this, there are undoubtedly millions of people who do. Can we rise above all the garbage we see and hear around us? (“Fear and loyalty: How Donald Trump took over the Republican Party,” Dec. 23).
His attacks on immigrants are an attack on me and the generations that came before me. While my mother told me many stories about her family’s flight from Russia through darkened forests, crossing rivers by guides paid by my grandfather, I can now see in real time the terror of today’s migrating families at our southern border.
His attacks on minorities and poor countries, cities that have problems of crime, hunger, poverty are an attack on me. I’m not alone in cringing at the things he says or the women’s rights he seeks to remove or the people he attacks who sincerely serve our country, either militarily or in government. All these things feel like a personal affront.
He made me think more about my actions and what I say to others. I have become more sensitive to the needs of people around me, some older than I am, who are having problems just navigating everyday life. I think of the person in a shopping cart who cannot reach an upper shelf; the person who stops in front of a curb, anxious about stepping up or down. It really does not take much effort to acknowledge someone for looking nice and making their day a little brighter.
It seems to me that people around me are also making an effort at kindness, almost like the feeling that we are all in this together.
Congressman Cummings said that there is something each of us can do to make the world better. I’m beyond the age of marching in the streets (unfortunately), nor do I address policies, make laws or otherwise put myself out into the public discourse.
Other than writing letters, calling legislators, voting, there is little I can do realistically to change events. However, I can change myself to appreciate that people all around me are more the same, rather than different. And I can show kindness in my daily life. I admit that I am still a work in progress. But so many others are joining me on this journey.
Donald Trump is making me be better, if only in my own small way, to counteract the negative ways he impacts our American life. Maybe this is how First Lady Melania Trump is fighting his behavior with her “Be Best” program. Take that, Donald!