Sunday, December 25, 2016

For Whom the Trump Tolls

I haven't written since Trump won.  It's been too traumatic.  I've been processing.  Here's a passage from one of the Op-eds that struck me hard, by Paul Waldman:

Trump realizes that ... you can take any idea, no matter how preposterous, and make half the country believe it. And when journalists push back, it’ll only make your supporters more firm in their loyalty.

This quote gets to the heart of it.  One theme of my blog has always been that people are primarily psychological, not rational.  Now, thanks to Trump, I see how psychological.  He says things that are clearly contrary to the physical evidence.  He puts forth straight-up contradictions.  He flip-flops.  The only thing he can't do, as I've argued, is seriously challenge his underlying, insinuative theme of white nationalism. 

Even for someone like me, who has been cynical and disappointed in humanity for decades (genocide, slavery, mass extinction, and on and on), it's a shock to stare so baldly at the brute side of the human psyche.  The reach of fear.  The harness of hate.  The victory of ignorance, its will to write history as it wants.  Well, not just to write history, but also to end it. 

I was born in the sixties, when nuclear weapons almost annihilated civilization during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It was luck, actually, that saved us then, so historians say.  All my life, humanity has dwelled in the shadow of a high potential for Armageddon.  At various times, I've been relatively alert or numb to this fact.  Trump's win has made me more alert than ever before.  Trump is my Cuban Missile Crisis (I was an infant back then).  In a way, he is worse.  His Presidency shows us we haven't learned anything; that the abominable side of our psychology is winning, despite the accumulated evidence.

It all comes down to:  Can we be smarter than blind?

I will keep fighting, at least I hope.  People tell me to stay optimistic.  For me, that means staying inspired.  But it also means not lying to myself.  The truth is, given Trump, humanity is probably doomed.  Ironically, perhaps, that could be a reason to fight harder--not only to cling to a small percentage of survival, but also to show that humanity, in some  ways, can be stubbornly good.  Our legacy, even if we go down, deserves to showcase some moral heroism.  It gives the universe hope. 

When xeno-archaeologists arrive in spaceships and find our ruins, I want them to see the potential for advanced civilization to evolve; to cradle a chance, however small, for an angelic ethos, beyond the threat of war.  Given the billions of galaxies and all their planets, somewhere some sentient life-form might find a way.

Even in our death there can be hope--for the countless extraterrestials.

Paul Krugman made an analogy to the decline of the Roman Empire, its transition from Republic to autocracy.  In 2016,democracy failed to protect us from our own worst tendencies.  Indeed, it empowered those tendencies.  It gave them broad latitude to cripple our system of choice, such  that we won't have the option to vote more wisely next time.

Having written the above paragraph, I see what has floored me, this historic punch to my essence that leaves a permanent wound.  I knew about idiocy and ignorance on a grand scale.  But now I have witnessed them.  I've had a close seat as they debauched the one country that gave me hope.  Is China, with its police state, its anti-human-rights stance, going to take us in the right direction?  Is Russia?  The USA was the one hail mary for universal human rights.  We had the power, the imperial prerogative.  But the USA, rather than changing China and Russia, has shifted toward them.

Yes.  I have witnessed the disfigurement of something Beautiful, even if it was mostly potential, right before my eyes.  Ideals were building.  Now whatever they had accomplished wobbles.  It's the end of a global period of ethical renaissance.  We elected a man who bragged about sexual assault, a person who openly demeans blacks.  Abortion will probably become illegal in this nation, during Trump's tenure.  White nationalism has surged.  One of its main proponents, Steve Bannon, is in the new Cabinet.

Having written this, on this Christmas, I see what ails me.  I have witnessed the ugly betrayal of our last, best  Hope.  It's one thing to read about the emperor's new clothes, and the punitive downfall.   It's another thing to see it play out on the table with the highest stakes of all--this planet.

What awful karma we instantiate.

All of us who we see Trump for what he is--a clever narcissist who plays to the worst in souls, an insecure tyrant who could take us into World War III, or decide to advance his own Hitleresque pogroms--we need to keep going.  We need to appreciate the gift and the miracle.  Our reward is our realization and the resultant appreciation.  If I die tomorrow, I can say, I lived well.  There are miracles everywhere.  Our senses feed them to our lucky minds.

The artist's path embraces candor to seek ultimate compassion.  Counterpoise the hate.

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