By Margaret Tyrrell
In 2016, I retired from over 36 years in community service, and have tried to give back to the community by volunteering myself. Since 2016, I have been asking myself this one nagging question. In this time in our history, why did we elect Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States of America?
In the shadow of Barack Obama, the first African-American president, a man of integrity, grace, and humility, but not without flaws – we elected Donald Trump. My husband and I are faithful watchers of "PBS NewsHour," and especially the Friday evening commentators Brooks and Shields. Many times they voice frustration with Trump being Trump, and ask the question as I have as well, “How far are people willing to compromise their own personal integrity?” At the end of one such program, my husband uncharacteristically said, “I need to do something; go out and march in the streets.” We laughed, but then I got to thinking, maybe I’ll join him. I then started to think about what kind of placard I’d carry, and what should be the message. Maybe some acronym of T-R-U-M-P. I didn’t come up with much, and especially stumbled with the letter “U.” Oh well, time for bed.
It’s easy use the same bombastic, insensitive, and incendiary rhetoric as those on both sides of the Trump phenomenon. Rather than throwing stones and risk offending many of you, I reflect on my own character and find that oftentimes I have more Trumpian flaws than I care to admit. I am willing to concede that President Trump, in his first year in office, has accomplished some bold executive actions and legislative priorities, and a thriving stock market has benefited many of us. But how much are we willing to compromise personal gain at the cost of personal integrity?
I believe the answer lies in the words of another American over 25 years ago, “It’s the economy, stupid.” We are motivated by self-interest, greed, and materialism. We have bought into the victim mentality of “it’s the ‘others’ fault.” We no longer believe in the national motto “In God We Trust,” or as past generations, including my parents and grandparents, taught in the golden rule, “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”
For the past year, I have also been asking myself a more important question, “What can I do to make America civil again?” As I watched the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, I was especially proud when the U.S. athletes marched into the stadium behind the American flag. But then, the more I watched, the more I noticed the “others.” Other athletes marching in behind their country’s flags. They looked the same as the American athletes, with the same hope-filled smiles, looking to fulfill their dreams. For a brief time during the Olympics, politics was suspended, and young people from all nations, all races, all ethnic groups, were allowed to compete against each other in sports, but also to interact with each other just as people. At that moment, I decided I needed to act, not just be a complacent self-satisfied bystander.
As another American said over 50 years ago, we want a world where our children and grandchildren will be judged “by the content of their character.” I think this dream can be fulfilled by going “back to the future” – truly believing and living “In God We Trust” with humility and gratitude. Truly believing and living the golden rule with self-sacrifice and love. I pledge, in my own fallible way, to try to live out these creeds and to teach them to my grandchildren. Join me so together we can truly transform our country and bring real hope to America.
Margaret Tyrrell of Grand Island believes we need to get back to the golden rule.