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Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024

They’re Coming After You

Don’t let the opinions of others define you

It is often said, “Don’t let the opinions of those who don’t understand you define your worth.” That is much easier said than done, though. It’s human nature to want to be accepted and liked. We’re all “wired” to connect to and to seek acceptance from others.

That’s largely because, in early civilizations, communities relied heavily on oral traditions to share information and opinions about one another. As societies evolved and communication methods expanded, the narratives surrounding individuals became more intricate, with gossip, rumors and judgments.

And look, people will always talk. But when you spend too much time concentrating on what everyone else thinks of you or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you truly are. As the philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner.”

And in this presidential election year, many hope you will certainly be their prisoner. Because if you intend to support Trump, they’re coming after you and will attempt to shame you in the process.

They’ll want you to know, as Mitt Romney said last week, that you are “out of touch with reality.” That you are an “extremist” who takes your “marching orders” from Trump, as Hillary Clinton said in an interview recently, adding that you are also part of a “cult” that needs “formal deprogramming.”

They’ll want you to be reminded that you support “injustice” and “greed,” as Michelle Obama recently said, along with “racism” and “ignorance” by supporting Trump. That you “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” as President Biden recently said in a speech.

They’ll want others to look at you and say your Trump support is an “allout attack on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms and rights,” as Vice-President Harris said. They’ll want to paint Trump voters as a “cancerous situation” in this country, who “either don’t value the dignity of every person,” as Nancy Pelosi puts it, or are “afraid” of change.

The Democratic National Committee will want you to be thought of as “semifascist,” “petty” and “mean-spirited” because of your Trump support. The Biden campaign will remind folks that you support an agenda that “isn’t an agenda about freedom – it’s about fear.”

But you know that’s nonsense, of course.

Still, history is replete with examples of those who challenged conventional wisdom but were vilified in the process. Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary, spent 27 years in prison for his activism and was demonized by the apartheid regime. Abraham Lincoln was criticized for denouncing slavery. Martin Luther King Jr. was demeaned for seeking a nation where his children would not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

In each of the examples above, however, those individuals never let the opinions of those who didn’t understand define them or redefine who they were.

And it must be the same for you, too, in this historic election year.

Winston Churchill said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Mahatma Gandhi put it this way:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Trump supporters have been ignored and laughed at for years – and now they are being fought more intensely – by liberals and progressives alike who are “terrified about what could possibly happen” in this year’s presidential election, in Michelle Obama’s words, from earlier this month.

But what they don’t understand is that Trump supporters won’t give in and won’t be shamed into silence because the message of President Trump is much larger than Trump himself, his fame or fortune. That’s because the message is about we, the people, and realizing our greatest and best potential comes from within us, granted by God – not from what some government bureaucrat decides is best for us.

The popularity of this message is not primarily because of Trump. It never has been, and it never will be. Trump’s message continues to resonate with millions of Americans, regardless of color or creed, not because of his showmanship or his knowing the art of the deal but because it’s a message that we already know to be true: We can do more for ourselves than we think is possible, and there is greatness within all of us — whether you like us or not.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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