…to quote Gracie Slick at Woodstock, another time of an awakening starting in this country.
Not sure about the rest of you but today (January 20th) felt a little different – from yesterday and from the last four years. The feeling was similar to something I feel every time we have a large amount of “things” we cart down to our community’s Spring or Fall Cleanup. We load up all the items that stopped working or were replaced since the last cleanup, we take a swing around the garage and basement looking for items we really will never use or have no use for and we take it all down to our township building and and dump it all in one of the large trash containers never to see it again. Probably the best feeling is that our house, at least for a short period of time, feels lighter and less weighed down.
That is what this morning felt like. Our nation’s trash and the crap that is no longer useful has been taken out. Our “house” is lighter and the feeling of daily dread of “what is the asshole in the White House is going to do today?” is gone. Trump leaves in some ways no differently than he arrived. His truth is only his truth and his actions only fit this needs. At the end of it all, he left as he arrived – an egocentric, self-centered, integrity-free dickhead. He is now really irrelevant to most of us, pretty much what he was prior to being elected. The difference now is that while only those of us living reasonably close to NYC knew who and what he is, now the nation has seen. We also have the benefit of seeing who and what his family and followers are – needy, low-life grifters.
With all we have gone thru, there are a number of key learnings I think we can take away from the last four years.
- When someone tells and shows you who they are, believe them. Trump made it very clear what kind of man he is – he has done it all his life. There is little in Trump to which one can aspire – unless you really like gold toilets. There are few, if any, redeeming traits and his character flaws are obvious. A man who grabs pussy, cheats on every wife, stiffs contractors working for him, lies about everything to prop himself up and values nothing but himself is not someone who has any of the qualities needed to run our great country. The man didn’t drain the swamp – he is the swamp.
- Most of those Americans who profess to be religious are anything but. These “believers” were willing to sell their souls to the devil just to get a few judges on the bench. Not sure how any of them can look in a mirror or sit in a pew on Sunday without worrying about that bolt from above given their false prayers and allegiance. A surprise? Not to anyone paying attention but for us atheists, we’ve been pretty much in front of this for a while. A lot of the rest of you have some explaining to do – and not to me.
- We have a country that remains racist and bigoted across the board. While we have made some progress in the last 50 years, we are far from anything that resembles what many of us have hoped we, as a country, are. We are still pretty fucked up and we have a ways to go. Luckily as the newer generations are coming up, we can see glimpses of goodness and acceptance that many of us in older generations never realized. The hardest thing is trying to figure out how after watching what this country went thru in the 60’s and 70’s (when I came of age), my “peers” (in the word only) never moved past where their parents were in terms of bigotry. If there was any silver lining in the past four years it is the reality of who we Americans really are, not the image with which we can pretend to be “woke”. We are at a reckoning point and it can’t be laid out much clearer.
- In any group or organization we shouldn’t assume that “good” people will balance out the “not-so-good ones”. In the Trump administration those “good” people were usually described as “the adults in the room”, somehow making Trump less toxic. We see how that worked out. Let’s maybe not assume people who seem better aren’t actually pieces of shit themselves. Maybe it is just in comparison to the worse person in the room. Kind of like having one leg is better than no legs – no doubt a true statement but still pretty sucky. People like Trump surround themselves primarily with people like themselves – or with those they can easily manipulate to do their bidding. The latter is a quality we saw in both elections. For the want of something – or anything for that matter – these people will even support things that aren’t in their best interest. This tells you how important the need to belong is in most people. Attaching to the Trump camp gave identity. Not good identity but at least an identity. When you feel you are nothing, anything is a step up. Back to one leg is better than no legs. Similarly, these people still suck. This is important to remember because Trump isn’t the last asshole these people will glom onto. Trump doesn’t have the market cornered on “users” ready to take advantage. Josh “Douchebag” Hawley is ready and able to step in and fill the void. The lesson here…when you see a leader who is corrupt, rest assured that those closest to him or her are of equal integrity and ethics. It also works the other way – if you find an individual who is a lying sack of shit with no ethics, then there is a high likelihood their leader is of the same ilk.
- Life is not a zero sum game. There is no basis to the belief that if someone else does better, you end up doing worse. Thinking that “I’m OK only if you aren’t” is a mental disease of the unintelligent, the inadequate and the do-nothings in our country. It is the product of a stated sense of self-worth that is, upon closer examination, a recognition that “I am really pretty much a failure”. To quote Shakespeare – “Thou doth protest too much”. You actually need to put some effort into achieving success.
- People need to focus on their own business and stay out of the lives and philosophies of others. I think many in our country seem to feel it is their obligation to make sure the rest of us are following their rules. Related to #5, this is again an approach I see in people trying to validate how they have chosen to live their lives – whether they really live it or or it is really just rhetoric. I don’t ever have to justify or explain my “beliefs” if no one else can hold contrary or different ones. Again, a sign of weakness, especially among those who always take their cues from someone else – the ones we call followers.
- You wouldn’t think it would be necessary but maybe it is time for actual law that says you can’t put children in cages. A law that says you can’t separate babies from their mother. If we can’t do that minimal effort then maybe it is time that we reposition the Statue of Liberty. Probably needs about a 180 degree turn.
- Let us not forget – ever – January 6th, 2021. I’ve seen a lot in my 67 years and there only a handful of events (beyond personal) that rise to the top of the list of impacts. I remember the race riots in the 60’s. The Vietnam War demonstrations. Let us also not underestimate the path to an authoritarian government where personal rights and freedoms are really removed. Momentum is a hard thing to stop so vigilance and healthy skepticism is now a requirement.
- Last one – The call for the Democrats to focus on healing division. Nice try but there is still a lot about which to be angry. Many out there put a good deal of effort into messing everything up for the majority of us. While Covid-19 was bad, our nation’s lack of leadership and the ongoing unwillingness to “fix” it but Trump’s supporters is the primary reason we lead the world’s countries – first world thru third world – in Covid-related deaths. We do need to find a path to reducing anger levels. However, a bit of anger is always a good thing. Now is not the time to forgive and forget – it is too easy to fall back onto the aura of “let’s just get along”. There remains a good number of reasons – maybe 75 million – to stay angry. Time to clean up the politicians who seem to have forgotten they are there to do the work of the people rather than just gracing themselves with the benefits of their position…as well to remind all that climbing up someone’s ass is a dual-edged sword. But it isn’t just the politicians. Those complicit need to be held accountable. Whether neighbors or family, let us not forget the assholes that enabled the last four years. Let us never forget the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. We should be ashamed.
But at least this is goodness. And those fireworks were amazing!