Why I resemble Donald Trump’s taglines more than I would like to admit, and why that means that I will not be voting for him.
I’ve lived through a lot of change in the past year.
One year ago I moved to Massachusetts from California, nine months ago we got married, and in a little less than three months we are going to have a baby. Whew! Do you ever wish that you could press a pause button when you find yourself in the middle of a slow day and just take a break from the pace of life? I do, but this has not been that kind of year.
When I’m processing change, I usually get a little more introspective.
This is an example.
At the same time as I’ve had a year of change, full of highs and lows, we have had a year of crazy politicking and quite a few shenanigans.
And lets push the pause button here so that I can tell you- I do not consider this to be authoritative political commentary, it is a personal reflection. If you and I were having a face-to-face personal conversation about my feelings concerning the 2016 election, this is what I would hope to say to you.
It’s been very easy to sit back and look at all the crazy things coming out of the coverage of these elections, and feel shocked and superior. The retort that “If Trump wins, we are moving to Costa Rica” has been a hit at (some) dinner parties. But, as I honestly look at many of the phrases that have become anthems for the Trump campaign, I can see more parallels into my own actions and thinking than I would like to admit.
So, here, in no particular order or significance, are the ways that I find myself resembling a Trump tagline.
“Build a wall.”
When I feel threatened, or when I feel like someone is going to drain my precious emotional energy, I tend to wall myself off and shut down. I’m not talking about appropriate emotional boundaries, I’m talking about ignoring people or situations where there is a real and deep need because it feels inconvenient or scary to take action. And I usually have some good excuses for acting this way- I had a long day at work (and I’m a hospice nurse for goodness sakes- what more do you want from me?), I’m newly married, I’m pregnant, etc – these are easily reachable reasons for shutting down in favor of “me time.” I find that it is all too easy to insulate myself from feelings of compassion, justice and the impulse to do something to help others. As long as I can classify that person, idea, place or thing as a threat to my energy, mental wellbeing or existing relationships, I can build a wall like the best of them and stay in my comfortable and safe space.
“I know how to win.”
Ah shoot, this one gets me right in the gotchas. I don’t know whether it is coming from a large, competitive family, being born in America, or being a gymnast for so many years, but I LOVE winning. And when I win, I tend to act like I won because I deserved to win, not because of any other circumstance. This means that I’m not always the most gracious person to play fun games with, that I like to have a sense of superiority, and that it’s hard for me to tell my husband, “You are right and I was wrong.”
“I’m the only one who can fix this.”
As a nurse and a professional people helper, I act like this is true ALL THE TIME. I work longer hours because I think I’m the person who should be there with patients and families rather than someone else who might approach the problem differently. I sometimes insert myself into situations believing that I am the only one who can fix them, and it is hard for me to let go and feel powerless in the face of disease, loss and death.
The problem is that all of these responses in myself are connected to a deep sense of insecurity and fear. They are not responses that I want to use as my modus operandi, especially not as a Jesus person.
Instead of building a wall, Jesus modeled vulnerability. He gave Himself over to people who were trying to kill Him. This was a kind of raw, vulnerable and bleeding love. This was a Love without the walls that we build when we are afraid. I want to live a life that is willing to be poured out for people, not a life that sees people as a threat.
Rather than winning all the time, Jesus won by losing. His version of success was poverty, obedience and death. He deliberately aligned Himself with those who were not good enough to “make it” in society. In the process of giving up any attachment that He had to his own advancement, He brought healing and Hope to the people who had been outcast and forgotten. I want to let go of the idea of competition and winning so that I can show that same Hope to other people.
And finally, Jesus modeled working WITH people to change things, rather than being the only one who could fix it. He gathered a group of disciples around Him. He taught them to work as a team towards a common purpose and goal. And He kept talking about a weird thing called The Trinity, which basically took God’s presence out of the neat confines of a simple cult of personality and made it so that God could be understood as the God of Israel- Father, God incarnate in a person-Jesus, and God as a presence that endures and stays with us here on earth- Spirit. I don’t want to be the only person who can change and fix things. I want to prioritize working with other people in the process of redemption. I want to know my own smallness and walk with humility.
So, although I have found many parallels in my thoughts and behaviors to many of these slogans, I don’t believe that they are the right way of being, and that is not what I want to work towards either personally or with any political influence that I may or may not have. As such, I won’t vote for Trump. It doesn’t fit how I am learning to be as a person.