The Most Comforting Words Donald Trump Has Uttered
Since He Was Elected
The bitter election is thankfully over, and it ended differently than we thought. That’s not as important as what we said and did both during the election and after. We were mean and nasty to each other-the candidates, the media, and you and me. We said things that never should have been said, because we had to make a choice between two candidates that we did not like. Voting for “none of the above” was not an option, so most Americans held their nose and voted for, as a friend put it, “the evil of two lessers.”
Here’s how I see it: we Americans are split in half. That’s how the voting went, and that’s how our feelings went. This was an unfortunate case of “either-or,” of “if I’m right you can’t be, and if you’re right I can’t be.” But that scenario never works. Compromise is always needed for this Republic to survive, and the two candidates were so far apart from each other’s positions, we felt that no compromise was possible.
Then Donald Trump won the Electoral College, if not the popular votes casted, and he will be our President. And there are now demonstrations throughout our beloved country, disaffection for him runs rampant, and although there will be a peaceful transfer of power in January, nobody is happy. Some believe he is the Second Coming, while others believe he is the Devil incarnate.
So here comes what I consider to be “the good news.” Last month, Donald Trump visited President Obama at the White House, stepping into the Oval Office for the first time. You saw the photos, how awkward one looked and how comfortable the other one looked. You know that the meeting was supposed to last for only 15 minutes, but it lasted for 90 minutes. Even after bruising elections, Presidents become comrades-in-arms, they share the heavy burdens thrust upon them by their responsibilities, and each President does the best he can to make things comfortable for his predecessor. And so it was. This was no longer personal, this was one President greeting and preparing the next one.
They spoke about tactical issues, political issues, perhaps even some personal issues. In the statement which followed their meeting, President-elect Trump said these precious words: “We had never met each other. I have great respect.” For me, that was an “ah-ha” moment, because those words symbolized everything that is wrong in America. We don’t meet people like our grandparents did. We are too busy, there’s no time, we have to get on with the next thing and the next thing, and the next thing. Who has time to meet anyone with whom you disagree? We don’t even know our next-door neighbors, so how could Democrats speak peacefully with Republicans and vice versa? We have already convicted them, why should we need to meet and greet them?
The answer, of course, is as Mr. Trump said: “I have great respect.” It is only when we meet and really try to understand those whom we think are different than we, that we can possibly get to know them as human beings, created in God’s Holy Image, just like us. We will never understand anyone until and unless we make the effort to reach beyond ourselves and begin to share our feelings with others.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we Americans could convene “living-room dialogues” on a national level, where two or three families could get together in their living rooms and talk to each other, about their hopes, dreams, expectations and fears. Where white folks could talk to black folks and to Latinos and to immigrants (legal or not). Where Jews could talk to Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and those with no religion, just to get to know them and befriend them. And, with God’s help, we might even learn to trust those who don’t look or believe as do. This is America, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
I believe this would go a long way toward lessening the anger that many Americans now feel. As our future President taught: “We had never met each other. I have great respect.”