Yesterday, I watched the first pictures of Angela Merkel and Donald Trump. I'm embarrassed to admit that I first admired her jacket--what a stunning color.
But as I watched the two leaders of the free world sitting together, I had to wonder what was going through her head. Here's a woman who has worked her way through leadership positions slowly and with great patience. She's been a political presence during much of my adult life--and I'm 51.
Trump has also been a presence, but not a political one. I'll leave it at that, because my focus is Merkel.
Imagine Angela Merkel, this woman who has so much experience on the world stage, this woman who helped dismantle communism and reunite Germany--and she must keep a composed face during the various events yesterday. She's had lots of experience at keeping that composed face, to be sure. Growing up the daughter of a Lutheran minister in communist East Germany would provide essential training in keeping one's true feelings hidden.
I also thought about her vast education before she took on politics. She has a doctorate in physical chemistry (quantum chemistry). I tried to imagine a conversation between Merkel and Trump where they talked about what they had studied in their younger years--and then my head exploded.
Merkel's experience would seem familiar to many of us, still, these many years after Title IX and other protections were put in place in the 1970's. How many of us spend much of our work days composing our faces and patiently following our own visions, while men around us bluster and bellow? I know that I am fortunate in that I have never experienced the denigration in the work place that many have--and I have often been valued, perhaps as the quirky one with too much education, but valued nonetheless. And if I haven't been valued, at least I haven't been undermined or harmed. I can live with being ignored--in fact, one can often transform one's corner of the world when no one else is paying attention.
Poor Angela Merkel, having to be civil to the man who told the world that she ruined Germany by her compassionate approach to refugees fleeing for their lives. If we looked for the difference in approach by both leaders, I come back to religious values, or lack of them, that undergird each one. I wrote about these ideas in more detail in this post on my theology blog.
Of course, she's had lots of experience being civil to those who have been ugly; I'm sure Donald Trump is small potatoes compared to others.
This morning, I'm saying a prayer of thanks for women like Angela Merkel, solid leaders who get done what needs to be done. May there be more of these leaders, both male and female, leaders of solid substance, not leaders of bellowing bluster.