People who don't like to speak to groups are sometimes told to picture their audience naked, or in their underwear.
This is bad advice. For one thing, it's just plain creepy. For anther, I tried it, and I became way too interested in a woman in the third row who looked a lot like Beyonce.
When I think about famous people, particularly famous people I don't like, I sometimes try to picture them as children. It helps.
Stalin as the boy beaten by his father. Charles Manson frightened as a series of men go into and out of his mother's life. Hitler with a cold and distant father.
Seeing them as children doesn't absolve them of anything, but it humanizes them a little. Is anyone really BORN a monster? Isn't everyone "cute" at one point of childhood or another? Don't we all, even if it's only once, burrow our childhood selves into a warm bed and sleep without dreams? And, if we never get that chance to really sleep childhood's sleep, maybe that's why we become monsters.
Writing this, I can see former President Jimmy Carter in overalls, standing barefoot in the talcum powder Georgia dust. I can see myself in the iron-dark slush of an asphalt schoolyard in Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1964. Neither one of us turned out to be monsters, though I am a worse person now than I was in those days.
And, although I'm a writer and I have a good imagination, I cannot picture President Donald Trump as a child, and I've tried because I dislike him and I thought it would help me to be more fair if I could see him in some little moment of childhood.
It is as though he appeared in front of me suddenly, an old man, the president of the United States of America. I suppose I should have paid more attention to professional wrestling and reality television, both places where he appeared when he was younger.
Of course, he was a grown man then.
In some ways, I don't have to picture Donald Trump as a child because he is one now. He's kept all the bad traits of childhood. He is greedy, and bellicose, and selfish, and his hands are never clean, and he doesn't know how to make up small, believable lies, so he tells the teacher that aliens stole his homework, and he tells his father he's failing because the teacher hates, hates, hates him, and it's not fair.
What I can't picture is Donald Trump as childlike rather than childish. I can imagine him throwing a tantrum. I can't imagine him laughing delightedly as a puppy licks his toes. His imaginary friend was Russian and loaned him money. He arranged his green plastic army men into battle formation and then left the room just before the battle started and never came back to pick up the ones who fell.
I can picture recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a child: a little quiet, a little bookish, a little dreamy, with favorite foods and stereotypical dolls and that burrowing-into-the-covers feeling I mentioned before.
And so, I've failed Donald Trump. I'm the latest in a long line of people who haven't been fair to him, who've hated, hated, hated him.
And all of us have to be punished because, in the secret, worst world of a child, he/she is all-powerful, a wizard, a warrior in a dark helmet, and the teacher, and Mommy and Daddy and the other kids who aren't fair, all of them will be crushed when the tower of blocks goes tumbling to the ground, pushed by a small, cruel hand.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a good, family kind of book, is a collection of his best columns titled, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in The Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, GooglePlay and iBooks.