Saturday, December 30, 2017

Love and Wonder: Why Trump Will Never Enjoy Christmas

A friend shared this essay with me, and it's excellent; I had to share. I hope Mr. Allen doesn't mind.

Love and Wonder - by Neal Allen
Mr. Trump’s job is much harder than you or I can imagine. Yes, he accidentally stumbled into the position of leading the world. But that’s not his toughest job. Acting like a president is a cake walk for Donald J compared to his lifelong, relentless responsibility to hold together his sense of self and pretend to be a man. 
It’s Christmas, so let’s be charitable. Let’s pretend for a moment that we’re all perfect when you get down to it, even Mr. Trump. We’ve generally lost touch with that perfection, especially when it belongs to someone else, but it’s there, probably smirking from the back of your closet in the pages of your high school yearbook. 
For you or me, when life gets gritty and disappointing, we have a couple of readymade tools to give us relief, analgesic patches for the backbreaking job of life. Let’s call them love and wonder. Love is what gets me past my resentment when my boss ignores my brilliant solution. Wonder is what reminds me that there’s more to life than assembling an Ikea Billy bookcase. Love is our relationship panacea. Wonder is our worldliness panacea.
Love and wonder provide, at the very least, respite from everyday suffering. They make it all worthwhile, right? With love and wonder in hand, the search for meaning can be set aside for a while. Love can help me feel all right despite another drama descending on me. Wonder can be the feeling of living in a big, glorious world even if it’s Poughkeepsie. 
For people like Mr. Trump, love and wonder aren’t available. His ilk inhabit an alternate universe filed under several names, but my favorite is pathological narcissist. This isn’t the usual petty feeling that I’m at the center of the universe, which I am. Pathological narcissism is life encased in a lead suit, the kind that even kryptonite can’t penetrate.
Imagine being blind to the majesty of an ocean or mountain, or never noticing the vitality of an infant's grip. 
Imagine not throwing your head back and laughing at the time the toilet paper trailed behind you like a bridal train. Or feeling the soft satisfaction when you noticed for the first time that your new titanium alloy knee stopped throbbing.
For the pathological narcissist, it’s never time to drop your guard or care to be gentle. It’s hard like a rock and hard like hard work. Always.
As a president who ignores the social values of fair play and compassion, Mr. Trump deserves our resistance. As a human being who has never known the love and wonder that arise from fair play and suffering, he deserves our compassion. He didn’t ask to be a monster. He is responsible for his social actions; he is not responsible for how he came to suffer the way he does. Compassion is the form of love that arises in the presence of suffering. Mr. Trump suffers in ways that you or I cannot imagine. He suffers from the lack of respite from his own suffering.
Men like Donald J try to fill the empty hole (the persistent emptiness that substitutes for the soul of love and wonder) with one or more of three culturally defined masculine values: fame, power and money. While he has achieved prominence in all three, the weird thing is that he has done so in the most false ways possible. He is possibly the worst narcissist ever to reach the public stage.
• His money is built on debt and bankruptcy. He has never been accepted by the alpha moneymakers as one of them. They play by different rules, in which the game is already rigged legally in their favor.
• His fame is built on being famous for being famous. He has never been accepted by the Hollywood elite. They expect a little bit of hard work and talent. 
• His power is the insecurity-revealing belligerence of the autocrat and sexual predator. He cheated and lied his way to the top, and has no idea how to wield power within a normalized political system. He has to demand to be accepted. Otherwise, he correctly predicts, he will be laughed at and condemned.
So as he doggedly fills the three holes, only to watch them empty out through the bottom, a kind of lazy Sisyphus repeating a vacuous task, he doesn’t even get the satisfaction of periodic pats on the back. He's a false alpha who has managed to insert himself into a milieu of real alphas. He is the narcissist’s narcissist.
Leadership is tough enough on a person when they’re capable of compassion. The everyday leader feels the isolation and distance created by looking at other people as useful objects. 
Donald J doesn’t notice that distance; he hasn’t experienced what it’s like to occasionally merge with another object or feeling or presence and become something else that is bigger. He always feels isolated, but he doesn’t know it because he has nothing to compare it to.
So why on earth was Donald J. Trump born into this world and forced to live such a grim, cold, loveless, heartless, mean life? This is the same question that usually is presented as: Why would God take the life of a child? Only we don’t think of Donald J as a child of God, but a mature, responsible adult who is expected to obey the standard ethical codes, including wiping the pee off the toilet seat. But just as we show contempt for the entire stranger who preceded us into the public restroom, we make the mistake of applying the judgment of our political norms and political ideals to the entire person of Donald J. Trump or his sniveling bootlicker Paul Ryan, and conveniently ignore their participation in God’s unity. 
Sometimes I wish Christ had reminded us not to render unto Caesar anything that isn’t Caesar’s. I think it’s implied, but this tougher meaning is hidden in the positive. Object to Trump’s actions; that’s part of being in the political world. Hold him up to ethical and normative standards; those are Caesar’s world, and they’re relevant to nationhood and social survival. Be appalled at the greed and Social Darwinism that has descended on us. But also remember that Donald Trump isn’t having a very good Christmas. He never has and never will. As humans, that should be troubling. The rest of us, no matter our tribulations, have known what it’s like to be bolstered and immersed in love and wonder, which are, after all, the true architects of the day and birth we celebrate.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Some Sewing

Here are some quilt tops I have finished lately. They all still need to be quilted.

Ruzena, I hope you had a happy birthday!

Friday, December 22, 2017

It's Almost Christmas!

Merry Christmas, good readers! This year Husband and I are having a very quiet Christmas. It has its perks, but it's also a little sad. The reason is, our son lives in South Korea, and for Christmas we sent our daughter there to visit over Christmas. We are so happy they will be together and he won't be alone on Christmas as he has been several times in Korea. But it means our own Christmas will be a little lonely and quiet. Of course, that has its good points, too. We enjoy being home-bodies and love the quiet and slow pace. So.. all in all, we're looking forward to all of it, especially hearing from our kids and how they are celebrating together in Asia.

Bonus came here a couple days ago, and I gave him his Christmas presents: a shirt, books, and this car. He enjoyed the car quite a bit. It was fun to watch him maneuver around on it. He is the sweetest little boy. I just love having him around! I'm so lucky to be his Bonus Grandma.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day. Also, have a very happy new year! We have many things to look forward to in 2018.

Christmas tree at my niece's house

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Book Review: Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

This is a very interesting look into daily life in North Korea over a fifteen year period. Needless to say, it's devastating as we watch the collapse of a country and its economy. Millions of people starved to death, and most people have almost nothing to their names (including underwear)! This is a current story, not something from the dark ages. It ends in about 2009. It's shocking to realize how horrific life was and is in North Korea while most of us in the USA struggle to keep our weight down and stop accumulating so much stuff. A bowl of rice and a pair of socks would be a luxury in their world. Amazing! The author was allowed into North Korea a couple of times, and she also interviewed six defectors after they made their way to South Korea. The last third of the book is their stories of escape and their new lives. I found that part to be riveting.

satellite view of the Korean peninsula at night