The depth of President Trump’s brutish behavior, palpable lies and uncivil language elicits equal states of frenzy in a divided country. On one side, hard-core worshipers enthusiastically embrace these antics and follow Trump, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions in their xenophobic and racist race to the bottom. It matters little to them what ruin is left scattered in their wake.

On the opposite side, frenzy mimics pinballs bouncing all over the board, with no rhyme or reason and no plan of action except to scream, spend sleepless nights tormented with angst and wail in the company of equally afflicted souls trying to find their way. I lack confidence in altering the big picture through those who live on the big stage and tell us they’ve got the big answers.

I tire of frenzied talking heads found all over the screen, no matter the channel. Don’t even get me started on the Democratic National Committee. I am thankful for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but hold little hope in their ability to bring enough people together for effective change in the near future.

This brings to mind something shared by Nelson Mandela. When told by an interviewer how wonderful it was that the message of the African National Congress led to the death of apartheid, Mandela quickly corrected him. No, he said, it was not the message, it was the strategy. The message alone would not have won the day.

So what strategy can more effectively channel the angst brought on by Trump’s obscenities? In these times I believe it is a call to go small. Thankfully, every so often, a quiet, assuring voice appears to calm the emotions and remind us all that there can be hope.

It may be Mr. Rogers, now gone but always relevant and thankfully present again through film. It may be that advocate for the poor and neglected left behind after natural disasters or those brave young souls starting to appear in local and state political races who are not afraid to champion the values of honesty, generosity, fairness and optimism. It is here, in the smallness of the focused good fight, that today one finds the most hope.

It is foolish to expect change while waiting for others to lead when there is so much to be done now. In our own communities, and with compassion but not self-righteousness, feed, clothe and house those struggling day to day, deliver medical assistance, purchase school supplies for marginally financed public schools and counter the demonization of immigrants by welcoming them and their children.

Resist The Red Stream

Find and help the newly emerging candidates fighting against the red stream so they can inch forward a culture of civility and compassion to our government chambers. They are popping up all over, and bring a glimmer of hope to the future.

There are so many ways for us to lose the angst and rekindle the resolve. Look around. Find one that fits, take a breath, spend some time and money, and you’ll find that you have linked up with kindred spirits slowly moving us all into a better place.

Do this because it is simply the right thing to do. And doing the right thing might just spread in ways unexpected, as some of those across the divide may one day come to rethink their rush to the inferno and join you in the local community center helping immigrants and their children learn English.

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About the Author

  • Edgar Porter
    Edgar Porter is professor emeritus from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan, where he served as pro-vice president for International Affairs and was founder of the Porter Global Network, a consulting company focusing on international education and intercultural communication headquartered in Honolulu. He is a former dean of the School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii Manoa.