What feelings arise when you read the name Donald Trump?
Does it create a knot in your stomach? Do you feel pride in our president? Or are you feeling numb to politics in general?
There is a young woman in my town who is one of the kindest, most gentle people I have ever met. I got to know her several years ago when she was my son’s preschool teacher. She has long dark hair and is a stunning beauty, but I would venture to guess that what strikes people first when they meet her is her smile. It’s soft and welcoming and holds no air of judgement.
I was shocked when she told me that sometimes people are angry with her and even afraid of her, all because of her favorite T-shirt.
“When I wear my Trump gear I always get mixed reactions and, with the political climate today, I don’t really expect anything less.
On a recent business trip, I went out wearing my blue ‘Donald Trump: Make America Great Again’ T-shirt. I greeted the people I ran into with a friendly smile, but noticed that only two people said ‘hi’ back to me. The rest just looked at me like I’m a murderer or a woman wearing a scarlet A, who doesn’t deserve to be spoken to. One man literally ran from me. I’m not even kidding. He ran away from me like I was going to kill him or something.
I’m a pretty strong person and I don’t live my life in fear of what other people think of me. I’ve had to walk through some pretty lonely places holding my head high. Today, though, it just seemed to be too much. I’m the same person I’ve always been. I love people so much and I, who am half Middle Eastern, am not a hateful racist.
I went back to my hotel room and just started crying. I have lost so many people, who now hate me though I have, never once, hated them for their beliefs. And I see the problem growing worse every day and taking over both sides.
When did the freedom to disagree become so invaluable to us? Don’t we see the gift we have in being able to openly express our differences of opinion?
I will always hold true to my values, no matter what, but I will also never hate someone for just disagreeing with me. This world is so broken and more hate is the last thing it needs.”
Sharing that letter is not meant to open a big debate and or grease the luge for snarky comments. Instead, I hope it will do for you what it’s done for me. I hope it will give us a chance to reflect on how often we judge someone because of the ink on their arm, the blue in their hair, or the T-shirt on their back.
It’s hard to honor the Golden Rule when we don’t understand where someone is coming from, but in the end, treating others the way we would want to be treated is the kind thing to do.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.