Inauguration Day 2017

In a few short hours, Donald Trump will become my president. I have tried to be quiet during the transition, watching, listening and reading. I have been trying to understand what slightly less than half the American electorate saw in Candidate Donald Trump way back in November.

So far, President-elect Trump still seems to be the antithesis of values I was raised to believe were most important.

I was taught to be careful and respectful, to listen and seek understanding before criticizing or making judgment of others.

I was taught to never mock, that name calling and intimidation were signs of a lazy, weak mind.

I was taught self-moderation, to never assume that I was ever completely right or that I could ever completely know what was best in the lives of others.

I was taught to be honest. I was taught that truth and facts exist, and that they matter a lot.

I was taught to value learning, skepticism and honest inquiry. I was taught to value reading, critical thinking and the scientific method — the understanding of the world through careful, objective observation.

I was taught to understand that character matters more than celebrity and that being popular for the mere sake of being popular was a clear sign of a damaged character.

I am worried. History teaches that countries following leaders who say “I alone can save you” are heading for hard times.

I continue to respect the office of President though the person about to assume the presidency gained prominence through proud exercises of disrespect for that office.

Some of my family and friends will be celebrating the fact of Donald Trump’s presidency. That’s fine. I won’t be celebrating.

I will focus instead on being grateful that I live in a democratic republic that, however flawed, practices the peaceful transfer of power. I will focus on what I can do to protect and strengthen the values which make that transfer possible so that in four years we can peacefully transfer that power again.

I am still trying to give not-quite-yet-President Trump some benefit of my doubt. His will be a huge job. We all need him to be successful. But success is not only about growing the economy, defeating ISIS and creating jobs. That’s part of it. Success will also be about unifying our country and helping all of us remember and practice our shared values and goals.

And so, on January 20, I continue to watch, to listen and to read. I continue trying to understand.

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