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.
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