The Whole Nine Yards

Why the lethargy in finding out whether the President of the United States and his immediate subordinate have committed actions which could well amount to  treason?

How come, then, is it the demonstrable case that the worst it gets with Trump,  the more dedicated Trumps radical supporters get in pushing what they think is his cause?  It must be some basic facet of human character that makes such devastation possible:  it happened in Nazi Germany and nothing seems able to stop if from happening again, right here in River City,

Everyone knows that if this were anyone else in the chair in the Oval Office, the sky would have fallen in on him or her and he or she would either be history or on trial in the US Senate.  Why not DT?

A friend urged me to read Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, probably to help me see where I’m still stuck in adolescence at age 75….

So I still have some growing up to do:  tell me something I don’t know!

OK, from Rohr,  here it is:  the same division of individual life into two phases applies in Rohr’s book to societies aka nations.  What Rohr has to say about that in regard to the US answers the questions above which have been rattling around in my mind ever since January 20. (Text in brackets […] is mine, not Rohr’s).

“Law and tradition seem to be necessary in any spiritual [read:  attitudinal] system both to reveal and to limit our basic egocentricity, and to make at least some community, family, and marriage possible.  [Rohr’s italics].  …

Without laws like the Ten Commandments our existence here on the earth would be petty precarious indeed.  What if you could not rely on people to tell you the truth?  [Sound like anyone we know in government today?]  What if we were not expected to respect our elders, actually to dismiss the age old role of community elder, and we all based our lives on cynicism and mistrust of all authority?  [Sound like any current generations you know?]  What if “I love you” between partners was allowed to mean nothing? [Know any prominent couples where love would be an empty formula?] What if covetousness, which Rene Girard calls “mimetic rivalry”, was encouraged to grow unstopped, ,as it is in capitalist countries today?  [Any particular consumer minded societies come to mind, where the people — some of them — have gone way beyond conspicuous consumption in their greed?  Where certain politicians and churchmen have actually preached that greed, one of the original cardinal sins, is good?] Such shapelessness would be the death of any civilization or any kind of trustworthy or stable world.

I wonder:  Are we there already? …

If you want a job well done, on time, with accountability and no excuses, you had best hire someone who has faced a few limiting situations.  [Give me your tired, your poor, your teeming masses…and they will do the work that Americans think is beneath themselves.]. He or she alone has he discipline, the punctuality, the positive self image, and the persistence to do a good job. [Research has shown for decades that the best leaders essentially fail their way to success by learning from failures. Can we say that about DT?] If you want the opposite, hire someone who has been coddled, been given “I Am Special” buttons for doing nothing special, had all his or her bills paid by others, and whose basic egocentricity has never been challenged or undercut.   Rohr states that , to be honest, this seems to describe much of the working population and the student body that one hears about in the USA.  Many of the papers he received teaching in summer graduate courses at major universities were disturbingly deficient.  It was embarrassing to read their undisciplined style and purloined, unattributed content.   Yet those same “adults” are shocked if the do not get an A.  This does not bode well for the future of our country.  (from Rohr, Falling Upward, p. 28 ff)

  • Rohr’s text was written in 2011.  I wonder now if he might feel that his last sentence above was prescient at the time but too weak for our present context– needing  now to  written with much more indignant outrage.
  • We now have placed the future of our country in the hands of a man who has been coddled, given all sorts of Attaboys for doing nothing exceptional or worse, has always been financially cushioned and so has no idea whatsoever of the needs of those who have not been padded by greenback dollars all their lives. His colossal and poisonous ego not only is never challenged or undercut, but taken as affirmation by all the other adolescents in our society that they do not have to grow up.
  • We have put all the inmates in charge of the asylum.  The country which invented teenage, and all of its cultural expressions, now may be swamped by it and drown.

The reason that Trump gets more popular as he gets worse is that he is the emblem, the symbol, ,the embodiment of  the adolescent culture we have planted, fertilized, cultivated, grown and harvested over and over again for decades.  He is their self image become flesh.  They accept his dark blessing as white because their ability to make distinctions, by and large, ended with that of a fourth grader.  They cannot see or abide the grays of life.  Just like children they want it all black or white:  absolute predictability and validation of themselves.  Before they are willing to change that, if indeed they ever do, they will have to hurt a whole lot more than the discomfort of a few blog posts, marches, investigations and adamant speeches will create.   They clearly would rather fight than switch–not an unusual response to change, even if it does not ever work. And if the history of post WW2 right wing reactions is any guide. many of them will wind up defeated but unconvinced.  they will wait in the wings, teaching their progeny the litany of ignorant indignation and blame, waiting for the next Emperor to come along.

To think otherwise is to deny.  Denial:  the best friend of the irresponsible and a sure path to everlasting ignorance and the eventual collapse its pervasiveness will trigger.  We have armies of citizens, really armed to the teeth, who are determined to force the rest of us to admit that the Emperor really does have new clothes….

Even more than that, they will have to be willing to accept that DT, just as Hitler and Stalin and all the rest of the autocrats ever did, has hoodwinked them to  keep them forever bound to their character defects.  In the midst of an era when nothing is constant except upheaval, and when our world’s Gretchens of Faust find it ever more elusive to hand onto old rituals, he  told them that he knows all the right answers and will take all the responsibility.  And they say:  it’s a deal, Big Guy!

There is only one power on earth stronger than that. Eisenhower described it in warning our enemies in WW2:  there is no force stronger than an aroused democracy. To arouse my own democratic indignation and that of any of the handful of people who may ever read this, mainly, is why this essay is here.  I must write and publish whatever I perceive, think, reflect on, sense about this most critical of crises since the Civil War.  A moral statement without committed action in its name is just whistling wind..

The moral worth of a man only just begins at the point where he is ready to offer up his life for his own convictions.  General Henning von Treschkow, final words of farewell before taking his own life after his efforts failed in the July 20, 1944 plot to kill Hitler.

And why a commitment whose price could well be our own mortality?  Bernard Shaw said it:  Liberty means responsibility.  That is why most men dread it.

There are things more important in this theater of morality we call life than our individual lives.  One of them is liberty and justice for all.  Can we let what untold numbers of humans have died for just slip away?

If we want liberty, then we must be willing to commit to making it happen, even if it looks hopeless in the short run.  I cannot tell you what you must do.  But I must be ready, even at 75, even or maybe especially because it frightens me, to go the whole nine yards.