It takes courage to face the onslaught of daggers and arrows that come as people are forced to leave behind what’s familiar, no matter how dysfunctional. Yet familiar patterns, established ways, even traditions can evoke complacency, ingratitude, boredom, sluggishness. It can take the force of immense moral courage to break these holds to awaken to new freedom.
At the eve of a new presidential administration, I want to thank President Trump for his example of morally courageous leadership. He forced a fresh look at everything from news gathering practices to domestic policy, from business practices to foreign relations. His fearless defense of our country and insistence that we use a new type of logic — one that questions the rationale of past decisions — brought purpose to many.
Beyond policy reform, he enlivened the human spirit to reengage in the national discourse and fight for America’s well-being. He stirred things up enough to allow us to see societal problems and begin conversations we had avoided for years. His brazenness gave us space to be less afraid of the ugliest of human behavior in ourselves and others — we couldn’t escape confrontation with it — and that made larger issues less intimidating.
He was the right president at the right time. Withstanding hate and fear, he helped us leave old ways of doing things. When waking people from complacency, apathy and depression, kind words aren’t always effective. His election seemed a call to the spirit of those who were ready to recognize their own power, ask questions and employ the moral requirement of being an alert, engaged and informed citizen.
With freedom comes responsibility. During his presidency, he demonstrated this responsibility, following words up with actions. He engaged dialog with foreign dignitaries, who many called “enemies.” Somehow, they don’t feel like enemies anymore.
Under Trump’s administration, subversive tactics from North Korea and Russia lessened. Looking at his approach, Trump’s genuine discourse with those countries’ leaders — people who need love and attention just like the rest of us — seemed to meet the spiritual needs and still historical patterns of aggressiveness.
What if, beyond the torrent of Trump’s mean-sounding words and brash bravado, we could have recognized his use of moral courage, bringing healing between nations?
The highlight of his presidency, for me, was the refusal to engage in military action against Iran. In late 2018, there were provocations and his advisors advocated a strong military response. Yet, Trump had the discipline to counsel with his sense of moral justice and drew a line that would only be crossed if there had been a direct hit to an American. There was a response, but no war.
While the legacy of Trump may be long-debated, we may all be cheering if we were to look at America’s progress from a psychological perspective. To me, a quake-like wrenching has taken place, replacing complacency with vigor. What if Trump has led us through a national re-awakening? Even media pundit George Stephanopoulos acknowledged on election night 2020, that Trump’s legacy is a “more engaged” electorate.
Trump incited us to care again, to engage, to consider how and where to take action. Care, action, engagement are tools of love. He brought national focus back to ourselves, allowed us to build from within, strengthen America’s sense of self. Any psychologist would applaud this approach for a patient.
Our country is maturing. No matter who the president is, each of us has the moral duty to engage with each other productively, purposefully, and harmoniously. We have a long way to go, but there is new momentum now.
Thank you, President Trump.
Alexandra Ziesler, Park City, studies the Science of Spirit and practices through her business, The Truth of Being.