Goodbye Trump

Goodbye Trump

Droel_picture

by Bill Droel

Don Trump is out. Don Quixote is in. Worldly self-regard is out. Regard for others is in. That’s the analysis of this Working Catholic blog no matter what happens in the polls or in state primaries. It’s percolating; though it is not evident to many of the new tycoons, or to so-called celebrities, or to many people in media. It emerged after the collapse of our individualistic marketplace in 2007-2008. It temporarily resides in both the disillusionment and the dreams of many young adults. Soon it will guide young adult behavior—not all of them, but at least the powerful 2% who will, in turn, change the world.

Young adults—in ones and twos and eights—are seeing through the gimmickry culture of corporate Amazon, of the phony success of ragged individualists and the selfish privileges of the media darlings of the moment. Instead, these young adults seek something that Don Trump can never have: credibility.

That’s why young adults are attracted to Pope Francis in whom they sense an alternative worldview. That’s why they get involved with causes like Fight for $15 or Black Lives Matter; why they look for jobs with NGOs or in city schools or among the intellectually disabled and the like. They don’t have all the specifics yet. They are at an ambivalent stage. But many young adults, in whole or in part, increasingly feel that the pursuit of wealth in itself is no longer exciting and worth their total investment.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) wanted his students to make a lifestyle out of their sporadic positive impulses. It happens, he said, as people acquire virtue. To do so requires progress on parallel rails.

On one rail are, in Aristotle’s term, intellectual virtues. They come by way of theatrical productions and by reading literature, history and biography. Try Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1802-1885). Its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is continually misunderstood, loses all his possessions, and is accused of terrible deeds. He is someone Trump might scorn, yet he is heroic.

Try any novels by Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The heroes, though flawed, are the children and workers that the Scrooges of this world rob of dignity.

Go back a long way and read about St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), using one of the handful of newer biographies that leave off a sugar-coating. Francis was born into privilege, then inwardly he was conflicted and then he spent all his remaining years in downward mobility.

And then there is the other Donald, the total flop who tilts at windmills in the novel by Miguel de Cerantes (1547-1617). If the nearly 1,000-page Don Quixote seems forbidding, try a similar story by Graham Green (1904-1991), Monsignor Quixote. On Don Trump’s TV show, Don Quixote would surely hear, “You’re fired!” But to describe him as a person who doesn’t succeed is, of course, to miss the point. He takes the scenic route to unassailable dignity; he fails big but with a pure heart.

On Aristotle’s other rail are the moral virtues. These, he said, are acquired only through habit. According to Aristotle, it does little good, for example, to participate on Saturday in an anti-hunger walk. The key is to volunteer at a food pantry the following Saturday and then next month to look for a career with an NGO involved with community improvement.
There is a tension between how things are now and how idealists want things to be. To put it all together a young adult needs a friend. Not someone on social media, but someone who, over coffee or beer, will reflect on this tension. Those two friends then need the steady companionship of four or five others—people who want to stay in the tension between how things are and how they could be. These are friends who want to realistically act on behalf of others.

It is not easy because mainstream culture is no longer based on face-to-face solidarity, on neighbor-to-neighbor community. For now the way has to emerge among young adults one adventure to the next, one Sancho Panza and Don Quixote duo at a time, one small group here and another there. No matter. Trump and what he represents are done. You read it here.

Droel edits a newsletter on faith and work, INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629)

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye Trump

  1. We need to find ways to make it easier to be good. Yes, what we had is gone and what we have now needs to be defined. We need to get to the core of what we did wrong and find ways to stop living off the suffering of those who make the things we use and consume. Free trade economics remains the major cause behind our economic and social crisis. Few mention this although the Catholic Workers told about this economic disease years ago.

    We can talk about ideals but to implement them is another things. We are all called to pursue perfect love in this world although we know it will be never attainable here. Which presidential candidate is up to the task of merging the ideals with the real world of the streets. I come from the trenches of the corporate and business world where I experienced everything up front. I had many superiors tell me that is it well and good in trying to apply my spiritual standards to workday, but the reality of the economic day calls for practical solutions to human nature riddles. Human nature is on trial. And Christians like everyone else vote for what kind of society they want at the check out counter than in a voting booth. If the lowest price rules the game, than everything else is affected too. Fair play becomes something strange and unfitting when it comes to the economic survival. We must know that what we pay for any item leaves a trail right back to our own front door. I saw Christian communities trying to establish community food markets that eventually failed because the prices in a fair trade world are too high.

    Here is our letter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer….
    http://blog.cleveland.com/letters/2015/10/need_to_be_good_letter_to_the.html

    We must find ways to make it easier to be good. We have a culture of death here and abroad. We have mass shootings and war zones in our country. Barbaric wars flourish in the Middle East and beyond. Fighting a war against a word like terrorism has backfired. Nations act as brokers and dealers in a global economic arena resulting in a new form of colonialism where nations find they must protect their interests everywhere.

    We have raw capitalism. The free market is reserved for only a few. The free enterprise system is crushed. Millions have lost their jobs and their businesses. Free trade economics has failed and brought out the worst in us. A few are doing well while their neighbors get fired for the sake of more profits and stock values.

    Pope Francis came and reminded us of the golden rule about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is no longer just a biblical phrase. It is the only practical solution we have left. The culture of death now even includes the selling of baby parts for profit.

    President Obama calls for new gun laws, but many wonder what he means when he talks about the new world order. We need to make it easier for all to be good.

    Ray Tapajna,

    Cleveland

    Who is the presidential candidate who can serve the above principles the best. For me there is only Donald Trump who in a strange way is more for the common good in society than anyone else with the possible exception of Ben Carson. However Trump comes to us from the trenches of the commerce. And our economic day is in shambles. As a people we have to first follow the trail of just a single purchase and ask ourselves if it the right thing to do. Most likely, we will find that every purchase we make has someone suffering because of it.

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