Hey Girl, I’m writing to you because you seem rather anxious about our new president and the general state of the union. I know you better than anyone and I’m thinking that it’s time for a bit of self reflection. I realize that you are still trying to grasp how you so misjudged the election. You were quite certain that Donald Trump would be soundly rejected by the voters and sent on his merry way back to his tower in New York City. I was there when you wrote your blogs detailing why you felt that he should not be elected and I recall the moment when you joined the ranks of the #Never Trump movement. You were convinced that you were being quite noble and that your fellow citizens would follow your lead. It just made sense, right? Now Mr. Trump is President Trump and you and those who think like you are in a bit of a tizzy.
Surely you have to know that you won’t be able to maintain your hyped up level of indignation and concern every day for the next four years. You will likely burn out and be ignored unless you mend your ways, so for what it’s worth here is a bit of advice from yourself that just might help.
You were a good teacher. You had a knack for dealing with difficult students. Why don’t you remember some of the methods that served you so well in the classroom? After all, President Trump is very much like some of those kids who were determined to divert your attention from the important task of teaching. You understood then as you should now that reacting to every single behavior with negativity only insured that your classroom would become a nonproductive battlefield. Think about how self-fulfilling prophecies generally compound problems. If you can only find fault and never show a willingness to compliment and reinforce positive attempts on the part of our president then he will surely give up even trying to please you. Think of that one thing that he may have done that made you feel a bit more comfortable and let him know that you appreciated his effort. If it was nominating Nicky Haley for a cabinet position then tell him thank you for demonstrating some wisdom in that pick.
As both a parent and an educator you understood that it was important to choose your battles wisely. Some things just aren’t worth arguing about. Think of the issues that mean the most to you and save your ammunition for those. If you think the idea of building a wall between the United States and Mexico is ridiculous then make that one of your premiere causes. Let your representatives know how you feel. Be ready to take your trailer to Big Bend National Park for a protest if there is even a second of talk about destroying the natural beauty of the area with an ugly fence. Urge your lawmakers to enact immigration reform that is just and humane. Make this your priority and let the small things go. It doesn’t matter at all if President Trump wants to believe that he had millions and millions of attendees at his inauguration. Let him play the role of the dotty uncle with his outrageous boasts and look the other way.
Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into the name calling. Always do what you know is right. Answering ugliness with more ugliness is never the proper way of doing things. Insist that President Trump’s little boy be off limits and that any comments about his wife be respectful. You have almost always managed to keep your cool even when a student or parent was cursing you. Tell yourself that you will stay above the fray. When you get into the gutter you lose your credibility. Don’t let that happen.
You have always been someone who is open to different points of view. Don’t stop being that way. Be willing to listen to the people who earnestly believe that our new president will be good for the country. Find out why they feel that way. Don’t be ready with an argument for everything that they have to say. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They are in all probability as convinced of the rightness of their convictions are you are. Be patient with them.
In the classroom you were always vigilant. You learned how to expect the unexpected. Pay attention to the political world. Do research. Beware of soundbites and catch phrases. Understand that propaganda is floating all around you. Find the facts for yourself. Learn the full context of statements and actions that trouble you. Consider pros and cons. Embrace a full spectrum of ideas.
You have suggested to President Trump that he not be so quick to tweet or post his feelings. Follow your own advice. Most people really don’t care what you think one way or another. They are weary of the haggling and would prefer to keep things lighthearted. It is very doubtful that you will change someone’s mind but very likely that you will anger them if you are always disagreeable. Save your comments for those who might be able to actually do something about the issues. Let your Senator and your Congressperson know what you think. They were elected to serve you. They need to be aware of what you want. If they don’t respond in the way that you prefer then vote them out when they come up for reelection. You have that right, so use it.
Mostly I would remind you that life has always been a marathon rather than a race. You will collapse into a breathless heap if you run at full tilt all of the time. Find a comfortable pace and save your energy for those moments when you need to really turn on the speed. Develop a sense of humor and learn to laugh at the silliness, remembering that much of it is indeed silliness.
Surely experience has taught you that this too shall pass. You have endured some daunting challenges over the decades and come out mostly unscathed. You know you’ve got this if you take good care of yourself and your loved ones. You don’t have to be a constant warrior. Enjoy the beauty of the world that is all around you. There is still much to celebrate each day. It may be a trite platitude but the song was right. Don’t worry. Be happy. We’ve got this.
The voice of your heart