We’ve gone from hope to fear in America, and it isn’t producing our finest hour. Millions of Americans checked the box for Trump as president out of fear of a changing world, fear of people from away, fear about their jobs and anger at a government that has lost touch with ordinary Americans.

Now, by electing Donald Trump, their anxiety has infected millions of other Americans who fear what they’ve done. Donald Trump’s first month in office has only made matters worse.

We’re in the early stages of learning something important about our country and our future. Decisions made out of fear and anger only lead to a spiraling growth of both, and then to bad decisions and eventual self-destruction.

Trump is a bad decision made out of anger. That, in itself, is not fatal to the country. We’ve been electing incompetent people throughout our 250-year history, and somehow continued to move forward. But Trump is another matter, that goes beyond mere incompetence. He’s a pubescent, insecure, delusional and reckless character who likes dictators too much.

The good news is that in times of national crisis in America’s past, when we’ve desperately needed real leadership, an uplifting vision and a steady hand, we’ve always managed to find the collective wisdom we needed. Out of crisis, we’ve elevated people like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

It is in times like this that the seeds of the next generation of American leadership grow and sprout, and begin to usher in a more hopeful, more wise and more effective future.

But to get there, Americans are going to need to reach out to others who aren’t exactly like them, and to build a new national unity that extends beyond partisan and class divisions. A unity that includes not only Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton, but also Sanders supporters who demanded more change or felt confident in voting for other candidates because Clinton seemed like a shoe-in.

It has to include those who voted for Trump to send a message to Washington, because they believed the pollsters who said Trump couldn’t win. The worried blue-collar workers who are being displaced by machines and company-friendly trade deals. And the millions of independent-minded Americans who consider themselves socially progressive but don’t see taxes and government programs as the answer to all our problems.

Only that kind of unity can reverse the country’s drift into anarchy and even authoritarianism. Only that kind of unity can then help to reinvent government, rethink old assumptions, rebuild friendships and clean up the mess when Trump is gone.

We need to rekindle our long history of hope, and we can start by remembering to celebrate the light, even in the darkest moments.

Here are some of the lights I’m celebrating these days.

• Millions of Americans are resisting Trump, each in their own way. Some are demonstrating. Some are organizing at the local level. Others are speaking out, filing lawsuits, contributing funds, exposing fake news and working to better understand our history and the politics of extremism.

• The courts are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to hold steady against tyranny, when partisan passions combine with an indifference to our constitutional system of checks and balances.

• The free press, in the face of unprecedented scorn and abuse, is continuing to raise the tough questions and to do their best to provide the American people with the information that we so desperately need, in times like this.

On a more personal note, I’m grateful that 350 people gathered in Bangor a week ago to focus on the future of rural Maine, and on how to rebuild its communities and economy. The room was full of positive energy and practical examples of people building new businesses, reinventing older ones and making new alliances.

I’m grateful to all the people in our community who volunteer in nonprofit organizations, churches, civic groups and town committees. Who protect our parks, wildlife and waterways. And who organize sports activities for our kids or make the library a place of marvelous adventures.

I’m grateful every day for the Belovable One (aka my wife) who doesn’t have to commute to a job in Boston any more, and is now focusing her considerable talents and energy toward helping the people of this region.

Finally, I’m grateful for the Little Dude (aka our 11-year-old) who is becoming a little man this year, and who loves coaching and teaching basketball to kindergarteners and first-graders.

These are the kind of people who are doing the real work of making America great again.

Alan Caron, a Waterville native, is the owner of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” and “Reinventing Maine Government.” He can be reached at: [email protected]

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