Donald Trump – How to answer?
M.L. King – Opposition with Vision

Radio interview on Martin Luther King Holiday – January 16, 2017.
KGO Radio Host Ethan Bearman speaks with Miki Kashtan.
How Martin Luther King can help us find a way to respond to Donald Trump.
Excerpts of the interview transcribed by John Gather – January 30, 2017.

Beginning of transcript:

Ethan Bearman:
[after welcoming his guest Miki Kashtan]
First of, is my assessment of Trump’s communication style, you know, the fact that he bullies and he calls names, and it seems to me like a very typical two or three-year-old type of behaviour in response to when he’s challenged.
To me this seems violent in nature.
Am I totally inaccurate with that?

Miki Kashtan:
Thank you for the question. Let me take a second to try to define violence:
For me violence is what happens when people have no options,
and they act for their own needs without regard for the effect.

Oh, interesting. I like that definition.
That is a good starting point. He seems to be acting that way.

On the basis of what I have seen it is hard for me to trust that Donald Trump cares for other people’s needs. And that is about him.
I don’t have much control over what he will or will not do.
But where I have choice is how I respond to it.


Martin Luther King took action.
He mobilized many, many people around him because of the power of his message.
Which was about vision, which was about love, and which was about the courage to speak truth in a new way.

Nonviolence is not passivity.
It is not about letting other people do whatever they want to do,
and I am just going to be fine with it and passive.

Nonviolence is about responding in a way, that cares for the whole,
and is willing to confront what prevents the outcomes that we want,
but confront it in a loving way.

[mentions article – Miki Kashtan, „Working for Change in a New Era“ Psychology Today.]
One thing (from the article) I was wanting for you to clarify: When you say „Solutions that work for all“ …
don’t different groups etc. have different needs, other than food shelter etc. ….
I would wager in the USA, any solution you propose, there is a group of people who will say – that solution doesn’t work for me.

What works based on my experience is that before you start from solutions,
start from having an understanding of the needs and of the goals that are there
on a deeper level than the specific this or that way of doing it – and also on building trust.
The level of trust in this country is lower than zero.

Ethan: Yes. That is absolutely true.

I would start. If somebody asked me to do things and restore trust, that’s what I would start with.
I would start with finding a way to let everybody know that their needs matter.

My sense of why the election went the way that it did – is that somehow,
in the way that Donald Trump speaks,
there are major swathes of the population that previously felt left out
that somehow experience themselves being taken seriously.

Those of us who are frightened by Donald Trump, and I am definitely one of them, I think
we need to think long and hard – what is it that we did,
didn’t give people a sense of vision or a sense that they matter.

So, before the solution, there is the foundation of connection and trust.

I did a piece of work …. [Example of legislation work in Minnesota – topic Child Custody – created cooperative legislation – passed almost unanimously – even when the legislator was very divided from the outset]

This is how it happens.
When you talk about opinions, people will entrench themselves.

But when you bring people together and say:
Here: What are the actual practical problems that you have, and how are we going to solve them?
They manage to find solutions because they know their life depends on them.

[About an „accidental“ politician in England.]
They focussed on solving problems instead of doing ideological debating.

[about political parties in the US]
I call it our broken duopoly. They literally prey on our fears. Fear is a great motivator.
It is motivating you in looking for solutions in dealing with who will be our 45th president.
They use it though, of course, to entrench power for themselves.

We talk about the individual though. I want to go back to that for a second.
Where do we as individuals start by looking inside ourselves for what we need?
You talk about individual focus.
What is the first step in that individual focus?

The first step is to find
Where am I part of the problem?
Where do I separate myself from other people who disagree with me?
And what can I do to find communalities, to find our shared humanity?

We are very habituated to creating an „other“ – and, if I may say so, you are doing it with Donald Trump. You are calling him names. In the the way that I see it, it’s fueling that energy rather than transforming it.

Absolutely. [Goes on to explain his motivation for calling Trump names.]
I am mouthpiece for how some people are feeling, and I felt like there are a lot of people who are very frustrated, so I wanted to express it in a somewhat humorous way,voicing the frustration of many people out there.

I get it. You have kind of like a public responsibility. It’s like you are in some position of leadership as a radio talk show host, and so you are expressing what you are hearing from the people.

And one of the things, if we go back to Martin Luther King for a second.
One of the things he was fantastic at doing is
diverting energy from opposition to vision.

Instead of just opposing what is happening, he is creating a DREAM

His big speech is I HAVE A DREAM
His big speech is not I HAVE A COMPLAINT

Hahahahaha. That is a great point.
We will have to continue the conversation another time.
We are out of time on this one.
But I wanna thank you so much, Dr. Miki Kashtan.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for your time today. I really really appreciate it.
And of course that’s food for thought for me then.
Of how to keep it entertaining, while expressing how many of us are feeling about the 45th president of the United States.