A Guy’s View: Introspection and Trump
“This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.” Leviticus 16:29-31.
We are in the midst of Yahweh’s Fall appointed times when the important events identified by the creator for his people to meet with him come. As usual, these pass unnoticed by most of us owing to our decision to go in a different direction from him. We have decided to perpetuate the attitude of our fore parents who, to distance themselves from Yahweh, told Moses to go forward and meet with him on their behalf.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, passed last week. For observant followers of the Bible, this was a time when one is admonished to afflict one’s soul. It is a period of fasting and humble reflection on one’s life in an effort to make oneself right with the creator. I do not intend for this to be a religious discussion, but I wish to use this sacred time as a backdrop against which current events would be examined.
There is a lot that is happening around the world which indicates that the minds of people are not focused on quiet reflection, but probably nothing more so than the American presidential election. Most people in the western world have been transfixed with the race for the White House in America. This heightened interest is due largely to the Donald Trump phenomenon. These events provide ample evidence that there is no sacredness in this time, except, maybe, at the individual level.
Many people who would not have more than a passing interest in politics, are now keenly interested in what is happening in America. And their interest is all about Trump.
When Trump is discussed by the man in the street in Barbados, there is always some levity associated with it. His comments invoke mirth, either because of his unique style, or because they are so outrageous. He has also provided many hours of material for late night talk show hosts.
But there is a serious side to the Trump phenomenon. Three aspects come immediately to mind: his strong, uncompromising and uncivil language; his pride which makes him unwilling to consider that he could be wrong about something; and the fear he instils in persons in many parts of the world who are not white Americans.
Trump has completely removed civility from American politics. The United States’ liberal defamation laws encourage persons in the heat of debate to say things that should never be said, but Trump has taken these liberties to a new level. Can one expect him to relate to other world leaders in this way, should he become President? The answer to this question may lie in what his language says about him.
If the so-called Christian right wingers were more about genuine faith in their god, and less about partisan politics, they would find it impossible to support Donald Trump, for President or anything else. They should suggest to Trump that he needs to do some serious introspection and try to uproot the source of his incivility.
Introspection often leads to repentance. This word is hardly used, except in Christian circles, but it need not bear religious colour here. Everyone has the ability for self-examination and turning around one’s life. Since Trump does not seem to be a man of faith, his atonement would have to be driven purely by conscience rather than spiritual inspiration. The problem, some might say, is that he has no conscience. In the absence of conscience or spiritual direction, what is left to guide him? Apparently, up until now, it has been the smell of money. He now wishes to add power to that pursuit.
There seems to be a genuine fear of persons outside of America for a President Trump. Heads of State have never sat across the table from a person with the attitude of Donald Trump. It seems that he is impossible to agree with, simply because of his extreme views, and ill-advised to disagree with, less one is willing to run the risk of having the stool bombed out of them.
Were he running to be Prime Minister of Barbados, his extreme views would scarcely make a difference, for he would have no ability to affect the world in a major way. But as American President, it would be a different story. He would have access to nuclear weapons and a powerful military.
His view of a great America seems to be a ruthless, closed approach to governance, at the domestic level, and intolerance for everyone who does not fit his profile internationally. With such a mindset, it would be troubling to think about how he would project America’s greatness across the world.
Much of the negative characterisation which surrounds many politicians is just the morality of politics. In light of this, we might do well not to hold on to all that we hear about Donald Trump in the American media. However, with Trump, one is uncertain where the line should be drawn between the man and the caricature.
Acrimony is not strange to politics. In Barbados, our approach is to spread dirty rumours about opponents and lie in vague language, thanks to our defamation laws. We have a history of copycatting, so we may be in for some new Trump-like politicking in this country going forward. This becomes more likely as we move further away from faith in the Supreme Power.
If there is one thing that the world should learn from Donald Trump’s success in this political effort is that he is not a lonely voice in America. There are many things that he has either said or done that would derail any other political campaign, and yet Trump is still competitive in this race, depending on the poll to which you pay attention. In fact, there is still a good chance that he could win. Clearly, there are many millions of people in that country who think like him. However vile Trump might be, almost half of Americans think that he represents the America they want.
He has opened a new door for politics going forward. Even if he does not win, the fact that he remains competitive will send a message to those who follow that some of his strategies may be winning ones. Racism and divisiveness may not be all bad after all, at least in politics.