Hating Donald Trump seems to be fairly universal in my social circles. I’ve even heard people say they wish he were dead. Obviously, millions of Americans voted for him, and many people in this country like him as well, but not in my social network. So it feels vulnerable to take a stand against that and say, ‘I love Donald Trump.’
I don’t love a lot of the things he’s done. I think he’s said and done some very harmful and unpleasant things to people and the environment. But I do not hate him. I want him to be happy, and I don’t want him to suffer. And I think that he wouldn’t be doing what he is doing if he weren’t suffering in some way.
I have a very deeply held belief that everyone’s inner nature, deep down, is good, but stuff gets in the way sometimes – or a lot of the time! Until now, I could only guess that President Trump is very troubled and traumatised, without knowing any of the details.
But recently, his niece, Mary Trump, published a book in which she talks about his childhood. Now, I’m not saying his past excuses anything he’s done, but I think it goes some way towards explaining the person that he is and humanising him.
She talks about the fact that his dad was a sociopath who didn’t show his children any love or appreciation. He was only interested in grooming them to take over his empire.
She gives the example of when Donald Trump’s older brother, Fred Trump Jr, saved his mother’s life by doing the Heimlich manoeuvre when she was choking at a Thanksgiving dinner. If I had just saved my mum’s life and walked back into the room with the rest of the family, I think they would be incredibly happy, relieved and thankful towards me.
Apparently, they reacted almost as if nothing had happened – like he’d just taken out the bins. Mary says this was emblematic of how little love and attention Trump’s dad gave his children, and how much it took to win his approval.
The lessons that Donald learned through watching his older brother and his dad interact were don’t be kind, don’t be generous and don’t have frivolous interests. I recently found out that Trump’s older brother drank himself to death. I think that’s a pretty strong indication of the level of trauma that was present in Trump’s childhood, and the lack of love that he received.
How can you hate a person like that? Mary says she has no compassion for Trump, and that he knows what he’s doing because he’s an adult. But, personally, I can’t say categorically that if I’d had the same childhood experiences as Donald Trump, I wouldn’t be anything like him. I’d love to think that I’d have made different decisions; that I would have turned out to be a kinder, more compassionate person. But I can’t say that for sure.
I also notice that when I think about him in terms of how much I hate him, it causes me pain. And when I imagine him being happy and free of suffering, which I sometimes do in my meditations, not only do I imagine him treating everyone else better, I also feel less tense and more relaxed.
It doesn’t do any good to hate him, really. As Martin Luther King Jr said:
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
It doesn’t help to tell Trump again and again how much of a racist, ignorant moron he is.
This dynamic of us thinking we’re on ‘team good’ and hating those on ‘team evil’ plays out in many areas of our lives. In my social circles, ‘team evil’ is also represented by Brexit voters, (perceived as idiots and clearly wrong for what they’ve voted for), and people who oppose climate legislation or believe in privatisation.
Our prisons are full of people that we have designated ‘bad guys’. We think somehow, on a societal level, that if we punish and humiliate them enough, they’ll become nice, friendly citizens who will contribute to society.
And I see it in my personal life as well. I’ve had arguments with girlfriends in which I am completely convinced that they’re the bad guy; they’re 100% wrong, and I’m totally right. I’m filled with self-righteous anger. But the more I try to prove them wrong, and the more I fight against them, the more we both just dig into our own positions.
We only manage to move forward and make peace when we make the effort to see each other’s point of view – to empathise. And that’s what I’m trying to do with Trump, when I try to understand his childhood. I think that’s what we need to do with everybody that we hate or whose opinion we dislike.
But, so often, what we do instead is think, ‘Well, if they have that opinion, they must be either insane, evil or stupid.’ We dehumanise people for having a different perspective. We’re not going to be able to solve any of our problems personally, in our workplaces, at a societal level, or at a global level unless we can empathise with the people we disagree with, and stop hating them. And that is why I love Donald Trump.
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