Recently my wife has begun writing, from a Christian perspective, about popular culture – music, books, movies, etc. Her premise has been that the soul cries out to God even if the person doesn’t yet realize it. We have long talked about how, if you listen carefully, you can hear the questions, the pains, the need for the Creator within the secular words and stories told as the author, performer, or director as they try to put the cries of the soul into their work. It’s a wonderful way to speak with people about God and the longing of their hearts and souls, via questions that often can be broken down into “I wonder why…” or “I wonder how…” that open the door from concepts that are easier to speak about with nonbelievers to concepts of God that are harder to explain and even harder to understand without a baseline understanding that believers are blessed, hopefully, to have already.
Applying this to another part of life is the application of popular culture to understand current events. With that said, the event I want to talk about is the Donald Trump phenomenon. Donald Trump is a businessman who decided to run for President. He’s running as a Republican and has entranced many conservatives to his bandwagon, yet the concepts he talks about and the words he uses are those of a liberal demagogue. He identified a yearning in the American public and he is playing to it perfectly.
Americans are angry at the government, at politicians, at men and women who promise the moon and then either fail to deliver, or turn around and do exactly the op opposite of what they promised in the first place.
Americans are angry at a lack of justice.
- Justice under the law (Trump’s initial rise can be directly attributed to the hard line he took on illegal immigration and the promise to punish law breakers and “send them back” and promises of building a wall that another country will finance – never mind that we would have to declare war on Mexico in order to force them to pay for it.) Also, the criminality of actions by politicians such as Hillary Clinton – lying about the contents of a private, unpermitted, unsecured, and unprotected email server in her home during her time as Secretary of State in order to avoid the documentation preservation rules for all Federal government appointees and employees – used to be called what they are under the color of law – espionage and fraud. When oaths and laws mean nothing, the law-abiding grow angry.
- Social justice (the intolerance of the tolerance movement is something I’ve written about before as there are “activists” that aren’t just happy with being permitted to do what they please, but rather want you to celebrate their behavior and their uniqueness as superior to your own – gay marriage/adoption movements, Black Lives Matter, and other such movements fall into this camp squarely. It has even got so absurd that “All Lives Matter” has been called a racist phrase because Black Lives are apparently more equal than yours. When you are told that you are worth less and someone else is worth more for any reason is racism whether you are black, white, yellow, red, or green. There is no justice when ANYONE is elevated above another and the aggrieved grow angry.
- Economic justice (When banks deemed “too big to fail” are given money via the Federal Reserve, which increases the volume of money thus decreasing the value of money and robbing everyone of stored wealth and income, there is a growing feeling of a economic aristocracy. When businesses, with politicians beholden to them for campaign contributions and future employment as lobbyists, have laws and taxes written on their behalf to squash competition in the open market or to have the economic advantage of a decreased tax burden comparatively to others in the same market – the government is seen as picking winners and losers. When good hard-working people lose their jobs because their businesses are regulated out of existence due to profitability problems, when good hard-working people lose their homes because banks deemed “too big to fail” and given money freely to avoid their seemingly inevitable bankruptcies won’t rewrite the terms of their mortgages and force a family into destitution how can there be anything other than a growing anger.
I’m sure you sense a theme now. Anger is growing in this country. It is palatable now. There’s no sense of courtesy anymore. No consideration of the other person. No compassion. What is your first reaction when someone does something unexpected on the road while you’re driving? Cursing, yelling, honking, aggressively driving with a vendetta toward the other person? Are these symptoms of love or anger? I think the answer is obvious.
With this in mind, consider this quote from the great sage of film, Yoda.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
We have passed the point of fear. The fear is there, but it is deeper, it is foundational. The fear that our country, our way of life, is changing permanently. That the freedoms, rights, and privileges we hold as Americans are lessening, not growing. This is true whether you politically are left or right of center. There is fear that our jobs are not secure. There is fear that an economic wall is not just being built, but has been built by those in the highest tier to prevent anyone that they don’t want from joining their ranks. There is fear that everything that has been accepted as given for so long is simply not so, and the fear is that if the givens are no longer constant, than how can we function without playing “the game.”
Fear leads to anger.
History can be our guide here because the world has seen rises to power like this in the past. The circumstances of today closely mirror the circumstances of another time and the leaders that can spring out of times like these can restore us or drag us down into darkness.
- Long-term bitterness makes brazen, bully-like tactics appealing as they see the candidate, in this case Trump, as their champion.
- Ineffective government and laws give the perception of dual justice systems where certain crimes are excused for those deemed “worthy.” Equal justice demands equal enforcement, so when selective enforcement is practiced openly faith in the government, police, legislators, and courts is eroded.
- The usage of money by bureaucrats and politicians to enact personal policy via businesses, lobbying groups, and induced behavior (such as enforced purchases under pain of penalty – The Affordable Care Act mandates ALL people buy health insurance because they were born) reeks of corruption and tyranny.
- The 24/7 news cycle and unmitigated lying and misleading by politicians (answering one question they want to answer instead of the question asked for instance) has lead to a soundbite culture that hinges not on ideas, but on emotions. It is not a far leap from there to attaching those negative emotions to a race of people, or a political belief, in order to ratchet up anger specifically directed.
- The Cult of Personality around Mr. Trump is one in which his most ardent supporters don’t care what he says, does, or could do. They support him fully, leading them to attack those that disagree verbally and, in some cases, physically.
Anger Leads to Hate
The time-period that I referenced above is the 1920s and 1930s in what was then called the Wiemar Republic. We know it now as Pre-Nazi Germany. The same conditions and cultural conditions were in place then as now. I’m not claiming Donald Trump is the new Adolf Hitler, but the comparisons are worth considering. At what point does he, or his bandwagon turn from expressions of anger to expressions of hate. At what point do the long knives come out?
Hate Leads to Suffering
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I don’t sense any of the these attributes in Donald Trump, or anyone I’ve met who truly believes he is the best candidate for President this year.
I don’t argue to change your vote, your preference, or anything like that, but I do ask that you, regardless of who you support this year, to examine WHY you support them.
Are you making a decision out of fear? Anger? Hate? Suffering? Do decisions made in the heat of passion or despair ever work out well?