Thank You, Donald Trump

January 21, 2017

Today, as the world watched, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. I won’t try to hide the fact that I’ve opposed him as a candidate and as a president-elect from the very beginning. To me he stands as the antithesis of the values this country has come to represent. A demagogue who hasn’t the least interest in making this country great again other than in how it might benefit him personally. He represents what Carl Jung defined as the collective shadow – the personification of our nation’s hidden dark side that strives for self-importance, control and power.

Yet as the great spiritual teacher Ram Dass reminds us, every experience is ‘grist for the mill’, or to use a phrase from the Ninpo tradition, Shikin Haramitsu Dai-Ko-Myo; a powerful reminder that every experience we have can be used as a vehicle for our own transformation and enlightenment. Seen in this way, even our greatest adversaries, petty tyrants, and perceived enemies have potential lessons to teach us. These lessons come to us on two fronts. First, anyone we dislike or oppose is a reflection of our own inner world. All our relationships, be they with friends, family, or to a national leader are a mirror of the qualities that we carry within ourselves. In this case those traits that we may dislike about our new president are shadow aspects of ourselves that we aren’t willing to embrace, which is why we recoil so strongly from them in another. Until we own them both as individuals and as a society we will continue to see them manifest on the personal, social, and national level.

Secondly, on a more tangible level, our opponents give us the opportunity for object lessons in how not to be. They demonstrate those characteristics and traits that we are striving to avoid or overcome in our own lives. They present a clear example of what not to do. Every choice we make has consequences and every choice is a decision that either expands or contracts our awareness. The beauty of witnessing the sometimes appalling behavior of those we dislike is that it can reveal to us the real-time consequences that arise from words and actions. We can watch the results of their actions and learn from their mistakes to make better choices ourselves.

Therefore, in that light, I would like to express my gratitude to our incoming president:

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be unpretentious, genuine, and humble.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to embrace facts, evidence, and critically reasoned information.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be altruistic, noble, and self-sacrificing.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to cultivate peace, harmony, goodwill, and equality amongst all races and nationalities.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to treat disabled persons.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to speak to or treat women with a sense of respect and equality.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to discourage violence, animosity, and hatred.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be honest, transparent, and straightforward with the press and the American people.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to listen to constructive criticism with dignity and gratitude.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to behave on social media in an honest, educated, and mature manner.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to denounce hate groups and speech at every opportunity.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how to not to speak to or about our veterans or their families with the utmost respect and dignity.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to conduct yourself professionally and securely in matters of foreign policy and diplomacy.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to behave as an emotionally intelligent adult.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be a courteous steward of the planet we all share.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to apologize, ask for forgiveness, and learn from your mistakes in judgment.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to treat minorities and immigrants with respect and value.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be forthcoming with information regarding your businesses, taxes, or other dealings.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to maintain a cool, rational, and objective perspective on national and global events.

· Thank you, Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be fair and equitable in all your dealings.

· And lastly, Thank you Donald Trump for demonstrating how not to be a decent, compassionate, aware, honorable, gracious, and unassuming servant of this nation, its Constitution, its values, and its people.

While you may feel this list is unfair, overly sarcastic or cynical, it’s based on the actual speech and behavior Donald Trump has shown us throughout his campaign – whether on video, during interviews, or on social media. I’m not going to debate the legitimacy of these examples with you. They are what they are and can easily be accessed by those who wish to find them. Having selective attention and choosing not to see what is doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Regardless, I genuinely believe there are lessons to be learned here, lessons that we can all use in our lives to become better people. And for that, thank you Donald Trump for teaching us what we don’t want to be.

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