I spent eight years hating President George W. Bush. I thought that his election was wrong, his beliefs were wrong, and his actions were deeply wrong. I was afraid of him, and his administration, and what they represented. I carried a sense of dread that was lifted only when President Barack Obama took office.
That dread is back. But I don't want to go through it all again. I don’t want to spend the next four years hating the president, or the Republican leadership, or most of all the people who voted for them. Nothing good can come of that.
I think we should practice loving President Donald Trump wholeheartedly.
First of all, we need it. We don’t help ourselves by hating—we just chew ourselves up on the inside and hurt the people around us. Nelson Mandela tells us it’s like drinking poison out of spite.
But when we open ourselves up to love instead, the game changes. The fear and anger and helplessness we may be feeling slide away. All of us need power now. Our love is limitless power, even in the face of madness.
Second of all, he needs it. Our president-elect is about as flawed a man as can be imagined. He is also going to be in as big a job as can be imagined. He needs all the love he can get.
This doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for what’s right. Indeed, if we practice love, we must. We’ve all seen how harmful Mr. Trump’s actions and ideas can be. We all need to look out for each other, especially now. But when we stand, it should be with love in our hearts for all, including our new president.
For the last few months, I felt that this election would be a test for America. Were we ready to renounce the hatred and fear that were embodied by Mr. Trump’s campaign? If that was the test, we failed. But perhaps the true test is not whether we can defeat someone who commits hateful acts but whether we can love them completely, for all of who they are. Maybe the true test is whether we can renounce our own hatred, however right and righteous, and let our love flow free.
Ian is a writer and the founder and editor of Open Heart Beginner's Mind.