During the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the period between November 8 of that year and January 20, 2017, and since that day, much of the nation and nearly all of social media have been convulsed by passions expressed by those exultant or outraged over the results of the vote. It has gotten to the point that I watch and listen to very little broadcast news and have greatly limited my time on Facebook. To that extent, the election has proven to be a blessing for me.
The negativity that has been poured out upon President Trump, as well as the negativity which poured out of Candidate Trump and also the negativity that was poured out at and by Candidate Clinton, has caused me to stop in my tracks and consider what my participation in that negativity says about myself (other than that I can write a sentence longer than could William Faulkner), and that is; to what extent do I channel my own inner Trump and/or Sec. Clinton?
Consider the negatives expressed by and at each one. Mr. Trump said things about people from other countries, races and religions that painted them negatively and with a broad brush. He also spoke of relating to women in a way that is, well, ungentlemanly. On many occasions Trump called people who disagreed with him “Bad People.” He tends to be arrogant and has been called “Narcissistic” by people smarter than me who know big words and what they mean.
Secretary Clinton on the other hand has been called arrogant, a liar, careless, greedy and incompetent. For her part she labeled a large part of the electorate who supported her opponent a “Basketful of Deplorables.”
The list of negative and hostile words and actions could go on for a long time, but I believe that I’ve written enough to present the picture. What I would like to do now is step back from the fray and take a look in the mirror. What do I see? Certainly, a saint bathed in glowing light riding on a white horse, right?
Or maybe I see somebody who has painted people other than myself with a broad brush from time to time too. Maybe I see someone who has been (and occasionally still is) arrogant. Perhaps the person looking back at me from the mirror can be condescending and demeaning to women, is greedy, and sometimes incompetent. Perhaps I think of those who oppose me as bad, deplorable people. Maybe in some ways I’m not all that different than Secretary Clinton or President Trump.
As we begin a new administration in Washington D.C. our media; news, social and other, is flooded with attacks on the President’s character by people who, to one degree or another, share the same faults, or at least I do.
What does that mean in the context of following the actions of the new president and speaking out when his policies or character are at variance with what I would call right or proper? Will I simply stay quiet until my outer behavior and inner voices are perfect? Should I move out of my glass house and continue lobbing stones or stay inside that glass house and keep my mouth shut?
I will no neither. And both. When I disagree with the president on a policy or when he acts in some verifiable way that demonstrates poor character I will throw not stones but a pebble, and that with the intention of getting his attention rather than making it hurt for my own pleasure. At the same time I will strive to live in a glass house, keeping the walls clean and transparent so that my own behavior can be inspected and cleanliness verified and failings pointed out.
I will neither move into the sty so that I can throw much and stones nor stay in the house with my mouth shut. Simply put, I will respond to this, and any, president with measured and non-malevolent criticism while acknowledging my own weaknesses and striving to clean them up, as I urge my president to do likewise.