The Kindness President Trump Deserves
Kindness matters, even during political disagreements.
Posted Dec 04, 2018
I may not personally approve of President Trump, but you still will not hear me speaking of him in an unkind way that attacks his physical appearance or uses curse words, as I’ve observed many other non-supporters do. These attacks typically follow a gripe regarding, say, his efforts to hush the press or engage in name-calling (Crooked Hillary, Pocahontas, Sloppy Steve). But rather than focus strictly on disappointment over such behaviors, non-supporters often take to Facebook and Twitter, adding to their point offensive, overused one-liners as they express their concern.
If It's Not Kind, Why Do We Do It?
It turns out that social media is just the place to unleash our inner feelings, no matter how cutting.
In a BBC article, social media researcher Danah Boyd calls the internet's "mainstream" force in society one that is, unfortunately, ripe with demeaning commentary. "It's high time that we all stop and reflect on what we're saying and posting when we use our fingers to talk in public."
Add politics to the equation, and it can become a name-calling free-for-all where curse words and innuendo are routine.
A Psychology Today post by Neel Burton states that foul language may have a place: Letting out some choice words about someone or something could deliver benefits including peer and social bonding (cursing may reinforce belonging to a certain group); self-expression (swearing as a way to reinforce and add "punch" to a point); and even non-violent retribution (a way of getting back at someone without turning to violence). "Better a few sharp words than a sharp dagger," Burton writes.
More Kindness, Less Criticism
Still, I believe that outraged as many people may be over the president’s latest tweets or actions, it's not a green light to unleash a slew of below-the-belt bashing. Might it make some people feel better? Bond with other like-minded individuals? Perhaps. But we should stick to the issues at hand—policies, behavior, and breaking news developments. This is not the time to joke about his hand size, his hair, or smirks, as I've seen in various posts. It’s unkind and rude, but most of all, it's unnecessary.
Every Human Deserves Kindness
Perhaps the soft spot I have when foul language and insults come full bore on Trump stems from my own experiences with bullying while growing up. I’ve had ups and downs with my weight and ever-changing hairstyles, and have worn braces and retainers twice in my life—most recently as an adult. I’ve gained 70 pounds, lost it, and then regained 20. Through it all, I simply wanted people to see that, cliché as it is, there was so much more to me than my round face and wired bicuspids. I’ve been called a Cabbage Patch Kid, been laughed at for the kind of glasses I wore, and been criticized about my clothes. In more recent years, I've experienced workplace bullying.
At the core of it all, the president is a human being deserving of the respect and kindness that every human—from Hillary Clinton and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to your friends, the cashier, and your parents—deserves. Disagreeing with their ideas or their past or present actions is one thing, but taking the childish road and adding on a dig about their outfit or voice is an unnecessary step that spreads divisiveness and rudeness. We crave unity, yet go to new lows by pointing out trivial non-issues such as a tie color, lisp, or eyeliner shade. We want to do away with bullying, yet hide behind the comfort of a laptop or cell phone, spreading highly offensive remarks about Trump or others.
Tans, Pantsuits, and More: Meaningless Meme-Shares
Frustrated as we may be about politics, it's important to remember that expressing our dislike by turning to offensive phrases about looks, gestures, or facial expressions severely diminishes our character. When people stick to the topic at hand and pay no attention to whether Trump enjoys tanning booths or make wild speculations over some supposed meaning behind Hillary’s pantsuits, we stay focused and maintain our strong integrity. Doing otherwise is reminiscent of third-grade antics, in which the best response toward someone who gets our goat is a childish nanny-nanny-boo-boo or meme-share about a scar, overbite, hairstyle, or unflattering camera angle. Focusing on the real issues in politics is more important than engaging in irrelevant, foul-mouthed gossip about physical characteristics or clothing mishaps.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to soak my retainers before heading out to the gym. I may or may not get some ice cream afterwards.
Think what you will.