Recognizing and Using the Power We still Have: Moving Toward a More Sane & Livable Future

I know, politics again!  Gardening affords us all an escape from the mess of politics…but that ‘mess’ promises to take even that from us.

I’ve heard it argued that there is no point in having money and power if you do not use them. It certainly seems to be a popular or even dominant view in the US today. In a country where many of us feel relatively powerless to affect change or even have some degree of control to keep our own lives from falling to pieces, many of us would seem to identify with the man who today epitomizes the extreme of this position, our president, Donald Trump. His standard places winning above all else and it doesn’t matter what’s at stake, if he simply says he wants something, that is the only thing that matters.  He must win!  Nothing and no one can matter more.  To compromise is losing.  To take others and their position into consideration, is weakness….Whether there are other legitimate positions on something does not matter, once a position is taken, game on and there is no retreat, because this narrow idea of one’s honor matters far more than what might be best, or fair, or ethical, legal or moral.  Making these choices is a personal selfish matter.  There is no point in making an informed decision because being correct, or accurate, making the best decision based on our best scientific understanding of a problem or the most considered decision based on the consequences that will follow…doesn’t enter the ‘thought’ process at any point.   What matters is being in control and showing others that you are the most powerful. To do this you are willing to use every tool at your disposal.

Today there are few examples of wealthy and powerful men and women with the strength of character to say no to their own desires and ambitions.  The Koch brothers, er, brother, come to mind immediately, but their are others, many others, whose only goals seem to be centered on their continuing attempts to amass more wealth, more control, to wield more influence on the world and those around them, without ever attempting to consider what might be best for others, whether their fellow citizens or those of other countries, for the health of the planet that they and their predecessors have compromised and decimated or even the natural beauty that our constant expansion continues to lay waste to.  Where are our leaders?  All succumbed to the compromises they’ve committed to in their own Faustian bargains.

Today politics seems to concern itself only with what to do with the remnants and scraps that are left behind and who will benefit from them.  We seem poised on the edge of a contraction while the powerful fortify their positions from the attacks that will surely come with it.  The popular media, television, movies and ‘games’ seem’ a foreshadowing of what is to come.  It is hard not to be negative or cynical, for we all seem so committed to our particular chosen paths today that the coming ‘apocalypse’ would seem to be almost certain….It needn’t be, but first we have to believe that!

At some level it doesn’t surprise me that so many people voted for this man, ’45’, Trump, the ‘shit-gibbon’ or whatever name you’ve affixed him with.  He’s attracted such epithets like flies, his presence, character and demeanor, the least presidential of all of the presidents of my lifetime…yet he still has a ‘rabid’ following today, while opportunistic politicians, supportive or not, continue riding the wave of incredulity he has raised in Washington while they advance their own particular issues lost amidst all of the turmoil, outcry and public blood letting.  Many of his followers remain steadfast and true, strident and outspoken, often publicly taking up the cause in their own outrage, reflecting Trumps own flaunting of the law, increasing in their boldness. 

Trumps people are not those who necessarily occupy the lowest economic and social rungs of society, but they are the people who often believe themselves to be at immediate risk, who see themselves as those whom politicians and government have ‘forgotten’, whose lives are most precarious, who feel so little control that they are afraid of losing what they have…and they do not want to end up with or below, the blacks, the new immigrants, the ‘illegal hispanics’, or those individuals who comprise the coalition of LGBTQ, whom they’ve always seen themselves to be above of. They admire this man and they are standing with him as he reacts against the historically ‘undeserving’ poor.  Trump has given them someone to ‘kick’ and even made it ‘fashionable’ or at least acceptable to do so.  Whether you call it blaming the victim, divide and conquer or giving his supporters a ‘straw dog’ the effect is the same.  It is further driving society apart while at the same time putting ‘blame’ where it does not belong. 

While they may find him embarrassing and low class, a sizable portion of the wealthy elite, no doubt appreciate the work Trump has done for their cause.  He is a tool, a horse they will ride as long as it suits them. But the bulk of his supporters see in him somebody with qualities that they themselves wish they had so that they could take and secure what they see as their’s. He speaks proudly and takes action ignoring those who should give him pause, cause him to doubt his actions.  He cannot tolerate self-doubt and so acts boldly, brazenly and in so doing sparks something in those who feel small, who desperately want to believe that they too can get/take what they want.  This is the world that they believe they are living in, a world without kindness, a world of meanness, a world of winners and losers and one in which they desperately want to come out, if not on top, at least at some more secure level above the bottom. When I look at this world today I can hardly blame it on these people, for the lessons they have learned are all around us at almost every level. But they have made the wrong conclusions. 

They have accepted the path without a moral or ethical center, for expedience.  They are willing to sacrifice others to attain their goal, the same logic of the predatory wealthy who have utilized this same strategy so well in taking from the masses below them…beneath them in their minds.  Somehow these people with insecure futures, have convinced themselves that this will work for them.  That if they are strong enough they too can take what the want and secure themselves against those whom they would deny a place at the table…That in a game of the divided and decimated weak, they can succeed against their brothers and sisters whom they refuse to recognize.  That there is enough wealth at the bottom for them to take for themselves.  But this is a strategy that promises only further division, further struggle, in an effort that defines itself on taking from ‘others’ and securing it for oneself.  This will inevitably fail. 

We may profess to be a Christian country but our behavior regarding one another is anything but. It is sad, depressing even, to me, that this is the world we live in, that our children are inheriting…so many of us accept and take this as a given. That is the most frightening aspect of all of this to me, that this is the world most of us seem to expect…We have set our sights on such a low standard that we will assure its realization.  We have all but forgotten that if we want something better we must work for it and in order to do that we must first begin to see the value and goodness in ourselves and each other.  We have forgotten the power of a positive vision.  We have surrounded ourselves with leaders who have forgotten as well or simply have chosen this diminished and negative path out of their own greed and willingness to sell the rest of us short.  If we do not turn this around this is surely the world we will be stuck with.  We will be left with only the empty promises of the politicians we’ve been following all along.  We are going to have to very quickly learn how to distinguish integrity and vision from political manipulation if we are to be able to better choose leaders who can help us lead ourselves out of this mess.  The old pattern and politics will assure us failure. Trump has set a ridiculously low standard for leadership and public behavior, but there are all too many politicians out there just as destructive, selfish and blind as he is though they are dangerously, politically more savvy.  The burden is on us the voters.  It is up to us to reject this dead vision and short sighted politics and put in its place a positive vision which can inspire us to better ourselves and this world.  There is no in-between.  The margins have drastically narrowed.  We and the world are now at a level of unprecedented risk.  Do you accept this and the sad excuse of ‘greatness’ Trump has given us, as we all scramble for the last of the low lying fruit, or do you believe in something better for the world.  That is it in a nutshell.  We have followed the politics of compromise so far that it seems to make little difference in what or who we choose.  Our only real choice is to reject it.  The choice before us reads more like mutually assured destruction. The other one offers genuine hope, not the political package of promises we’ve seen before.  One choice will inspire us and push us to create a world of possibility, the other will leave us in the trough as we devour what is left of the world and each other.

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