During my trip to Nepal last November, I spent an afternoon whizzing through the crowded, narrow streets of Kathmandu on the back of a red vintage vespa with my guide, Surendra. We made our way into the rural valley where I got to see more of the countryside with my own eyes and let my curiosity take the wheel in asking questions and learning about Nepalese culture. Surendra, a gracious host, fielded all of my questions with delight and to the best of his ability.
One tidbit he shared with me was that even though many families have very little, if someone came knocking for food or water, they would always spare what they could. Their simple belief is that the kindness, generosity, and empathy you give always comes back around. As the conversation waned, Surendra smiled and said, “Nepal is maybe 100 years behind everyone else” to which I replied, “Maybe, but in many ways, so is the United States.”
This brings me to my thoughts on Trump’s first weeks in office.
Though I try to limit and filter what I read on the internet, I’ve been seeing a lot of content on the Women’s March protests all over the world, people protesting at the airports in response to Trump’s ban on Muslims from seven countries in the Middle East, and the president of Mexico’s angry words about how he will not pay for the wall because it’s a waste of money (I agree, sir).
While I’m proud that people are coming together and using their voices for a greater purpose than just themselves, I want to note a few things of which to be careful.
We need to consciously set our intentions to ensure that we are coming together for the love and unity of all people and not over a common bond of hatred for Trump. Also, let us take care not to use the same hate speech, derogatory language, inappropriate gestures, and name calling that Trump uses when he speaks to the public and that the media used to ultimately catapult him to the White House. We must choose our words wisely and use our energy efficiently.
For the record, holding signs that say “Fuck Trump” or asking for the government to deport him is not an act of love. You cannot fight hatred with hatred. To put it another way, you cannot fight hate speech with hate speech. Continuing to do so will make his presidency eight years instead of four.
The excessive negative narrative and rhetoric of news anchors and late night talk show hosts fueled Trump’s campaign yet the verbiage hasn’t changed. To me, it seems like these late night hosts continue to highlight Trump’s every move in hopes of rallying the audience against him.
If we don’t want someone like Trump in the White House for four years, we need to change our conversation topics, offer solutions and action items for moving the nation forward in the right direction, how we conduct ourselves at home and in public, and filter what kind of information we soak in. Instead of reacting to what Trump does, respond and reach out to people.
We need to find our way back to the human experience. Back to a time when is wasn’t deemed weird to smile at strangers on the street or to feel like our safety was threatened when someone did so to us. When we do favors and random acts of kindness without an agenda. When we don’t feel embarrassed or feel like it’s not our place to speak up or step in when someone is in a dangerous/uncomfortable public situation. We need to move forward with more empathy, understanding, compassion, open ears and minds.
I, too, admit it’s easy and comfortable to see Trump on TV and react by saying and thinking mean spirited things, and I, too, am practicing more compassion and praying that this will be a learning experience for us all. I pray that Trump will study all the details of the issues and orders that he repeals or signs off on. I pray that he’ll grow to have America’s best interest at heart. I pray that he’ll learn to stand on his own two feet instead of letting those around him pass off their own agendas for what they feel is best for their own families and their families alone. I pray that we will continue to come together to guide him by making our voices heard.
It is a big ask (but certainly not impossible) to respond with compassion for a man that we think is going to destroy everything we’ve worked hard for and the sacrifices we’ve made to get where we were before Obama left office. It is frustrating to say the least, but if these recent protests and our national history tell us anything, it is that we are extraordinarily resilient. So we’re going to do what we do. We’re going to stick together, work hard, and we’re going to be just fine.
I came across this picture of Earth taken by NASA, and when I look at that photo, I see a world without borders. There aren’t any countries, walls, or you and me, only us. I see a home to 7 billion people. Earth is OUR home, and it is ours together to protect and cherish. Let that photo be a reminder not to get too hung up on the little things and to take care of ourselves by taking care of others. People we meet in our everyday lives may not be blood relatives of our immediate or extended family but they are our brothers and sisters of humanity.
There’s no need to call names. We all bleed the same.