Thank You for Your Service Mr. Trump

By Kevin (Rudran) Degnan

 

As the story goes, Donald Trump was recently at a function with the Cardinal of New York City. The Cardinal bowed his head and took a moment to “thank the omnipotent Creator for all of His blessings.” Donald Trump deeply touched, stood up and took a bow.

When things are falling apart (as American society clearly is) we all want a scapegoat, and so many of us are choosing to point the finger of blame at Trump. And, it’s understandable. He often plays the arrogant bully. He has no interest in policy and intentionally stokes the lower instincts of the people who support him. He clearly lacks the finesse and refined thinking many of us believe a president must possess.

It’s well documented that exasperated cabinet members have had to explain and re-explain to Trump why he shouldn’t use nuclear weapons. His consistent refrain to their objections, “If we have them, why not use them?” It’s also well documented that Mr. Trump has ordered that his daily policy briefings be no longer than two pages and “have lots of pictures.” In the face of such reports, our response to Trump might be a knee-jerk, visceral, “What a moron!” But on deeper reflection, such projection is too facile. The fact is we are Trump.

Centuries ago, the visionary political philosopher Alex de Tocqueville prophesized the likes of Donald Trump. He predicted that the uneducated masses, hoodwinked by a charismatic demagogue, would be hypnotized into voting for a cataclysmically terrible leader. Well, Alex clearly hit the nail right on the head.

But, can we really blame Trump for the mess America is in? He didn’t create the insane interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that kills thousands in America every year and turns gorgeous towns like Sandy Hook and Columbine into epithets of carnage. Donald didn’t create the rampant selfishness and consumerism in America, where everything—including human dignity—can be bought and sold. Trump didn’t cause the disintegration of the nuclear family, and the psychological scars it has left on the last three generations.

No, Trump is not so much a cause as he is an effect. He is the logical result of the hedonistic selfishness that has become the hallmark of American society.

Perhaps, rather than vilifying Trump, we should thank him.

In 12-step programs, addicts of all stripes learn that you can’t solve your problems until you have hit rock bottom and can soberly admit that you have a problem. Now this is a long shot, but what if America used Trump as its rock bottom?

In a recent New York Times article a noted psychiatrist observed that yes Trump is mentally ill, no doubt about it. But, she went on to write that America itself is mentally ill. Maybe, Trump is just “hold[ing] the mirror up to our nature.” If we look honestly at what that mirror reflects, each of us would see that we too have fallen far short.

It’s so easy to point fingers, and so hard to get down to the hard work of slaying our inner dragons and becoming our best selves.

But there is another way forward, an ancient way…

This morning, my mind was stunned into silence as I watched a gander of birds bank hard left and shoot towards the sky together.

We all know it. There is an eternal way, a timeless path calling to us—beckoning us towards our highest, best selves.

Trump and Hitler will slowly evolve into selfless wise beings—it is inevitable— it is the way of things.

But maybe in the midst of the present chaos, the very best thing we can do is to stop and look at ourselves. Where am I Trumpian? Where am I self-centered and arrogant and ignorant and petty. When do I refuse to admit I am wrong and rejoice in the suffering of my enemies?

Despite himself, maybe Trump is doing us a favor. Maybe in the image of his darkness, we can reflect and see the shadows in our own hearts. Then, armed with renewed self-awareness, we can choose to be our true selves—noble and kind, and good.

Above all, we must not be afraid. There is benign power at work, even in Donald Trump. So, let’s love Trump, and pray for him. But more importantly, let’s use him as an ethical tool.

When a deep moral question arises, let’s ask, “What would Trump do?” And then, swiftly do the exact opposite, resting assured that we have done the right thing.

Let’s not delay. Let us decide moment by moment to be the anti-Trump. Let us continually monitor our thoughts and do our best to keep them clean and kind and positive and then act on our nobler angels to help the world.

Having done this, let’s let him go.

The Constitution provides more than ample tools to impeach Mr. Trump and dispatch him. Our republican sisters and brothers just have to show a little bit of courage, as President Bush and Senator Flake and Senator McCain have this week by clearly stating that Trump is unfit for office.

Good bye, Mr. Trump. You’ve done a great service by starkly showing America the inner enemies we must combat and defeat. But it’s time to take a gracious bow and exit stage right.

 

Kevin Rudran Degnan is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He taught high school English in the Bronx, NY and then on the campus of the University of Connecticut. He is currently living in an ashram in Southern India trying to free his mind and get out of the matrix.

 

 

 

Written for Rage Against the Machine Month.  If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more information Here.   But first, leave a comment and let Rudran know what you think about he said.

 

Featured header image via http://www.wallpapercave.com

21 Comments

  1. Ok, so I never thought I would be saying, We are Trump, but it is the sad fact of the matter. A great reflection on not just the present state of affairs outside of ourselves, but understanding what we bring to the table on the road to peace.

    Like

  2. Well said, sir. I share many of your thoughts. As I said on somebody else’s blog yesterday, we are likely the stupidest “great” country there ever was. While so many Americans believe in our “exceptionalism,” whatever that is, we demonstrate time and time again that we are far from exceptional. We delude ourselves into thinking our “greatness” means something about ourselves that it doesn’t

    I’m not sure we’ve hit rock bottom yet though. And the way I see it is that the only way to pull out of this is for the vast mushy middle, that remains relatively quiet amidst all the noise of the extremes on both sides, needs to start making its own noise — which goes completely contrary to the nature of the mushy middle. To say “enough” to both the extreme right and extreme left that are tearing this country apart. It’s time for the adults in the room to claim their responsibility and regain some maturity for our country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cringe every time I hear people saying one of the often repeated inflated and arrogant statements about our country. “We are the greatest nation on earth” and “the leader of the free world” sound more ridiculous by the day. Trump may end up being the greatest ego buster. I don’t know if his ego will ever be busted, I doubt it, but if we, as a nation, drop our arrogance he will have been of service. Thanks for your comment kingmidget.

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      1. The reality is that every country’s people thinks they are the greatest country ever. Look at what leaders from other countries say and you see them saying the same thing ours do. There are a couple of differences though, the United States does have the most “power” as measured by military might and economic strength. And because of that might and power and strength, we actually have an ability to act on our narrow-minded nationalistic arrogance that most other countries do not have. It’s been a part of our nation’s fabric for hundreds of years. I don’t know if it will go away unless we lose some of that power and strength. Something I predicted would happen when we invaded Iraq. It’s a long, slow decline for an empire, but I still see the Iraq invasion as the beginning of the decline and what we are seeing now is another step in that decline.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. That being said, nationalism it bigger in some countries than in others, and it’s often at its biggest when a country is trying to establish itself as something it wasn’t before. The story of how special a country is, often needs to validate something about that country.

              The adoration for the flag is something that hardly happens where I live, for example. I do believe I live in a very good country, not because it’s flawless (it’s definitely not) but because it takes good care of (a lot of its) people: health care, schooling, welfare, women’s rights, gun laws, democracy. On none of these separate fields it’s the best country in the world, and I’d like it to improve.

              Yes, I do see the irony in the point I’m making 🙂

              I’ve spent time this summer on the American military cemetery in Normandy. It made me think about how the story about the greatness of the country is needed to fill the army – so many people died. They sacrificed there lives on a continent that wasn’t even ‘theirs’. You need a good story to make people keep doing that. To comfort the people who lost loved ones. Standing on those landing beaches made it really clear how strange it is that young men were willing to fight and die somewhere oversees.

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  3. Ow, ow ow, my head hurts. My brain doesn’t work in a way that can grock all the nuances of history and politics.

    I’m not saying I don’t understand (and agree with) Rudran. I think this was eloquently written. But all the talk about “power”…Well, it makes me think of the movie/book
    Absolute Power (by David Baldacci). Listen, I am not even a Clint Eastwood fan but Baldacci’s story had me pondering for weeks and weeks about the nature of power, how it’s defined, who gets to define it and how context and perspective are everything.

    We may be “the most powerful nation” etc., etc. but wouldn’t, couldn’t just one particular bomb shift that title instantly, for the millions affected? Hell, a single gunshot for that matter!

    “Nobler Angels”, here I come!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Our political evolution doesn’t just happen. It would be encouraging to impeach him, restore democratic institutions. We are players in this evolution. Trump is a symptom or result of a moral corruption as you say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. This deserves a far bigger audience, for you have hit the nail on the head. trump has exposed the pathology that was just under the surface in American life. I remember in the 70’s reading that Russia was laughing at the US, predicting it would collapse in on itself because of its rampant consumerism, because capitalism is a system that cannot hold. I love the image of the flock of birds banking left and shooting towards the sky. We are at rock bottom. The only way left is up and out. Thank you for this spot-on essay. You have articulated so well what I have been thinking all year. At 71, it is appalling to be seeing so many of the old systems reconstituting themselves, after so many fought so hard to put them behind us. Mostly, it breaks my heart seeing what is happening to Mother Earth, who is crying out to us, her cries unheard.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh my!!! Well said. I was bobbing my head so much reading this that my neck hurts! I don’t feel comfortable expressing my views from where I am, as a Canadian, a Quebecoise…well, it feels like complaining about the new step-father. We are related by distance…we duck when Trump says something dangerously offensive, we sneeze when America as a cold and we cringe when any American presidents have talked about war.

    Although he is filled with faux pas as a public figure, and scary as heck with his outburst, he is far to blame for anything or everything that has gone wrong in America for decades. It is humbling to self-reflect for once instead of point fingers because when we do, we are exactly like him.
    Beautifully written!

    Liked by 1 person

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