This week past, Vermonters had a visitor, and whether a supporter or not, it was clear to the entire state that Donald Trump was out of place. This made the event a big deal for all of us. Following closely the campaign has become an important part of each of my days. As I start to profoundly evaluate which type of country I would like to raise a family in, the upcoming election casts a large shadow over my decisions.
Donald Trump literally stands for so many aspects of my opposite life. I consider money a tool to pay my bills, take care of my loved ones and any extra I have to share with others. Material possessions are each chosen very carefully for their significance and meaningfulness. Every day I spend a large amount of energy trying to combat society's stigma and prejudice against others. In my life, beauty is as beauty does and a person of substance rarely has a pearly white smile or a neatly pressed suit. From work to home is a journey back and forth each day combating hate speech, micro aggressions toward oppressed populations and empowering those who have been pushed down to get back up again. Inclusionary learning and living is a top priority. Taking care of myself comes second to all of the others that pass by who need me more. Donald and I really don't have anything in common.
For these reasons, I spent the evening he visited my beautiful city of Burlington on my yoga mat in my home paying very close attention to my breath. Many of my friends and loved ones wanted to be near the epicenter of his visit, to be near the hype. His visit felt like a violation to me, one that was unwelcome and wrong in so many ways. His statement that the non supporters in the audience that night should be thrown out into the cold without their coats only reminds me that he is not a Vermonter. We would never, no matter how angry or apathetic we might feel, ever want the bitter icy cold of Lake Champlain to confront any person without a coat.
Toward the end of my yoga practice that evening I realized that focusing on our differences, his and mine, is precisely and exactly what his words say to do. He uses divisive, splitting, power language that always puts someone as less than another. Different views are not tolerable to him, they simplify to right and wrong. Out of anger and hurt for my fellow Muslims, my friends and loved ones of color, and those children I serve every day that have been told over and over that they are less than, I was allowing his language to permeate my thinking. I felt not just different but better than those who went to support him, those that work for him, him, and anyone at all that can tolerate a conversation about his views.
As I lay in Savasana, I realized, this country is great because we all have differing views, which is what Mr. Trump is missing. My anger turned to sadness that he is unable to see how brave we are as a country to allow all different view points to come to the table. I will not fall into his rut of us and them, better than others, right and wrong. As I stood up from my mat, I realized simply I have been provided the freedom by those that protected my liberty to love Mr. Trump's supporters and to look upon them as having intensely different views. I am allowed to care for Mr. Trump as someone whose beliefs that I vastly differ from. Ignorance in others need not breed hatred and anger in me, it is rather an opportunity for compassion and education. Hatred from others of those that I love that are Muslim or of ethnic minority need not create disdain in me for those people that have hate.
Thank you Mr. Trump for visiting my beloved state and city and forcing me to dig a little deeper. Thank you Mr. Trump for setting the precedence of views and beliefs that I will work tirelessly to never have and never support in others. Thank you Mr. Trump for opening our eyes to the beliefs that some of our countryfolk have so that we may know that we will not be cared for and loved in the way we care and love. Thank you Mr. Trump for reminding us that with freedom and liberty comes the need for us sensitive and loving folks to protect ourselves well as this difference in opinions that is allowed does not feel comfortable or safe.