Compassion for Donald Trump

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The Buddha

One could easily regard Donald Trump as the antithesis of the good Buddhist, embodying the exact opposite of how one should live to follow the Buddhist path. Certainly he does not seem to be much committed to the five precepts, including not stealing, not lying, and not engaging in irresponsible sexual conduct.

Christian culture includes a defining figure who is the antithesis of the supposed ideal for moral conduct in satan, who was originally an ally of the allegedly omnipotent Christian god, but who rebelled and earned banishment to hell for eternity. Satan stands, in Christian imagery, as a constant threat to humans, always trying to lure us into misbehaving and risking joining him in hell for eternity.

Buddhism has no such figure. Christians can easily dismiss Trump as an agent of satan who is doomed to spend eternity in hell.

Trump is not so easy for Buddhists to dismiss. Buddhists strive to treat all beings with compassion and lovinkindness. Trump seems to have no beliefs at all, beyond the impulse of a toddler to get whatever he wants immediately. Persuading Trump to follow the Buddhist path does not seem very likely.

But he will continue to occupy a prominent place in the world until he leaves office. He occupies a unique position of leadership. We all have the responsibility to decide whether we want to follow his example. If no one did, he would not have much impact on the world.

It seems clear that many people see Trump as a fine example to follow. Those of us who disagree can do little, at the micro level, to change or stop them.

We can all, as individuals, however, choose to recommit to the five precepts and the concomitant values of compassion and lovingkindness, and include Trump and his followers in our compassion, which may not change their behavior, but does at least have the advantage of making us sources of countervailing energy and sustaining our hope for better in the future.

Please help spread the word.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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