Tuesday, October 4, 2016

In Halls of Wealth and Power

as my wife and i watched the first debate between donald trump and hillary clinton, we hoped that secretary clinton would do well and demonstrate her mastery of both domestic and foreign policy.  at the same time, we hoped the debate would allow a larger audience to see the donald trump that has attracted the angry, racist supporters that one sees in clips of his rallies.  both of those hopes were realized, but in the course of the debate, i began to feel compassion for mr. trump.

as he interrupted secretary clinton, lambasted rosie o'donnell, denied well-documented statements he has made in the past, and praised his own temperament while criticizing that of his opponent, i thought about how much he must suffer.  his need for self-aggrandizement and his insistence that he is always right, that he has never failed at anything made me certain that his inner life is filled with turmoil.  his mind must be filled with a constant stream of chatter and distractions that prevent any semblance of self-examination or contemplation of ideas beyond those which will increase his own wealth and importance.

he appears to be devoid of basic notions of compassion, as he refers to "miss piggy," "crooked hillary," "little mario," and "lying ted," ridicules a handicapped reporter, makes fun of secretary clinton's stumble caused by her bout with pneumonia, and holds everyone who criticizes or disagrees with him in contempt.  as evidence comes to light of his dealings with those he employs, his cheating of private contractors, his use of the income tax code to avoid paying taxes while at the same time criticizing those whose poverty excuses them from paying income tax, his apparent manipulation of the charity that bears his name for purposes that are anything but charitable, one sees a portrait of a man who has become the embodiment of the worst of exploitative capitalism, a man like the fictional "citizen kane" that one might expect to utter "rosebud," on his death bed.

beyond his unsuitability to be president of the united states, mr. trump is a reminder that wealth and power are not the sources of happiness, and in fact may interfere with the human capacity for happiness, compassion, and kindness.  in him and his most ardent supporters, one sees an anger that dehumanizes their opponents, thus justifying the ridicule and venom directed at all who disagree with or oppose them.

may we have compassion for those filled with anger and hatred.  may we oppose their policies and tactics without losing sight of their humanity and hoping that they will see the source of their own suffering.  may we remember that the lust for wealth and power is the great enemy of happiness.  shalom.

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