Will the End of Donald Trump’s Presidency Justify the Means?

Does the end justify the means or is the end determined by the means?

Donald Trump is a like a deadly cancer that is killing us. It’s not his fault. We put him where he is. We hired a child stuck in a mans body to be POTUS. The symptoms are there for us to see, from Trump’s many tweets, his name calling, his erratic and impulsive tendencies, his insatiable need to protect his ego, and his divisive rhetoric, just to name the obvious. We don’t need a doctor to hear the lies in Trump’s tweets, or ignore our own cringes when we hear him use his bully pulpit to yet again call someone a nasty nickname. We put a man horribly addicted to feeding his fragile ego in charge of the most powerful country on earth, and he’s on a binge of his lifetime and not about to give it up. And his addiction totally disables him from doing what is best for America. There may be moments when feeding his ego actually coincides with doing something right for America, but it will be the exception rather than the rule.

For those who think they can control this kind of egomaniac, watch out. We’ve learned from the Mueller report that there were those that prevented Trump from exercising his most base instincts and helped him avoid killing his own presidency. It’s sort of like taking the drug away from the person in the throes of their addiction. It keeps them alive another day with the hope they get the help they need and get into recovery. But it is not sustainable. The downward spiral for people with addictions continues, often leading to death. The most we can do is to provide an environment where they can recover. I have great compassion for people with addictions, including Trump. However, his active addiction makes him unfit to be president. But I digress.

What if those who are charged to keep Trump in check, fail? Trump demands blind loyalty, not to country, not to our democratic values, but to himself. He cannot help it. He’s an addict, his ego demands it, and it is so big it shields his vision from all else, from his very own spirit. Sadly, there are many who are blind or ignore the cluster of symptoms spewed by Trump. Or perhaps they see the symptoms, but think they are benign, not realizing they are symptoms of a deadly cancer and not just a head cold. Blind loyalty! And then there are those who rail against him like he can change who he is. He can’t.

For those who simply tolerate him, perhaps the camp who thinks his symptoms are from a head cold and not the deadly cancer I believe it to be, it appears they are buying into the idea that “the end justifies the means.” Does it? What is the end so many are excited about? Being re-elected? Deregulation of environmental protections? A wall? Lower taxes for the ultra wealthy? Less protections for the average American? Threats to health care access? Criminalizing abortion while doing nothing to improve access to health care for women and access to adequate child care? Further eroding public education? Having conservative judges to further erode our democracy when judiciary is supposed to be non-partisan? Eroding the rights of LGBTQ communities? Is this the end so many are excited about? And many are saying, YES! This is exactly why “the means justifies the end.” I get that these are largely held conservative values, non of which I personally agree with, but I get it.

But what about the loss of our American democratic values found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution? Values such as Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, Truth, Justice, Equality, the Common Good, Diversity, Popular Sovereignty and Patriotism. How does Donald Trump’s compulsive, hate filled, divisive rhetoric promote these core American values? How does his “us against them”; “winners and losers”; black and white rhetoric promote inclusivity, tolerance, acceptance, and freedoms for all? How do his lies promote TRUTH? Donald Trump is not promoting American core values. He can’t, because if he does, remove the attention from him and put it on us. He cannot tolerate to lose any attention. He cannot tolerate being behind the scenes. He cannot tolerate that America, the collective us, is greater than he. I am hopeful that our popular sovereignty, our power to control the government, will reveal our democratic values and will prevail. I pray our love will conquer hate, and we will use this power to remove Donald Trump, with our vote, in 2020. If we don’t we may find a very awful end “determined by the means.”

Coming out of the Shadows

I fell asleep last night with views through my window of the star filled night and a bright crescent moon on the Western Horizon. I wake to the orange glow of the mountains as they are set on fire by the rising sun. It’s cool, almost cold. I hurry to make my coffee and wrap myself in a blanket and make my way outside of our cabin here in the ‘Back of Beyond’. I’m mesmerized by the quiet that envelopes this town as the sun begins to warm the earth. The silence is broken by the cooing doves, cawing ravens, and clucking quails. I savor these moments to be alone in this stillness. I mindfully observe the dove on the wire. She does not move, and at first I cannot tell she’s a dove, for she’s in shadow. She is still. She begins to glow golden as the morning sun finds her. She seems to soak it up. She’s watching me. I wonder what she’s thinking. I watch the jack rabbits make their entrance to my domain, their long twitching ears glowing in the sun, looking for some greenery they can devour. The quail family scurries down the road. The wildlife owns this sleepy little ghost town in the ‘Back of Beyond’. Life is indeed precious and I notice my deep sense of contentment as I watch the morning sun bring light to all that is in shadow.

I take time to reflect on the fight that Chris and I had yesterday and I realize I am in the wrong, for I uncovered him. I revealed something about him that I had no business revealing. Furthermore, I painted a picture of him that was far from accurate. I violated his trust. Yes, it was unintentional, but still it hurt him. We talked about it, and made our peace, but it makes me think of this ‘uncovering’ that people do to each other.

I think we know innately to ‘cover’ the nakedness of our spouse, literally and figuratively. And even for those we are not in intimate relationship with, common decency prevents us from revealing things about others we think may embarrass them. My grandsons of course think nothing is embarrassing and are quick to point out things like my soft upper arms that can serve as wings so I can fly when we play make believe. Oh, out of the mouth of babes. Good thing I can laugh about my wings. Ha!

But seriously, when someone does reveal their nakedness to us, are we inclined to keep it to ourselves, recognizing the gift that has been entrusted to us, or do we yell it from the rooftops perhaps to get a good laugh? Or maybe we just ‘share’ another person’s story to make ourselves look better or sound interesting not realizing we may be uncovering the other person? I hope it’s not the latter. Have we lost the sense of common decency in this age of reality tv and doing all that we can to catch someone with their pants down? I sometimes wonder. I often feel embarrassed for the individuals who reveal their most outrageous and embarrassing behaviors for millions of viewers to see. Do we encourage this by our voyeurism? As a psychiatric nurse I worked with individuals who often lacked insight into how much or how little they should reveal about themselves and to whom. I saw both ends of the spectrum. Some were so guarded they wouldn’t even tell you their name. Others were so open, they told anybody and everybody every intimate detail of their lives. I believe both extremes are desperate attempts of broken people trying to affirm themselves when no one else will. Are we exploiting people like this for our own amusement with some of the reality tv? Are we complicit in a further unraveling of their already fragile sense of self? “Until we learn to love others as ourselves, it’s difficult to blame broken people who desperately try to affirm themselves when no one else will.” ― Richard Rohr,  Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

But am I not doing the same thing? As I write my blog, I’m revealing parts of my most intimate self. But here’s the big difference. I am doing it with compassionate awareness. This inner journey of self exploration provides me an avenue to discover and let go of my false self, my shadow self, so that I can live a more authentic life.  It’s scary to put myself out there. I’m by nature more of a closed book. Fear of criticism, judgment, and ultimately rejection are legitimate fears, and my ego, my shadow self as described by Richard Rohr, simply wants to protect me, but it keeps me down. It keeps me from growing. It keeps me from experienceing the joy that can only be found by going deep. So it’s a fear I’m willing to confront because I believe by revealing my shadow self to the light the chains of bondage to my ego are broken. My ego does not like it. I can feel it kicking and screaming. I reassure it and say “it’ll be okay”. My ego is not evil, but it likes the status quo and resists diving deeper. I am learning to treat this ego self with compassion, for it is part of me. I am learning that the most important gift I can give myself is to be my own best friend which was one of the profound lessons I learned with this free online MBSR course. So when I look deeply into the mirror and see things I do not like, I am learning to be compassionate and nonjudgmental with myself. Blogging for me is very much part of the process of my growth and maturation, it is part of my intentional uncovering. I may only have one follower, me, but I’m putting it out there. This uncovering is humbling and hard to do but it is part of my journey to “know thyself”. I know how important it is for me to practice gentleness and compassion. Each of us has our own life’s journey. Some may choose to live an examined life, some may not. But life itself has a way of teaching us humility and sometimes when we see the truth of ourselves, it hurts.

I found it hard to acknowledge that I hurt Chris, and I initially denied it, and instead blamed him. I did not want to see myself as a hurtful person. I felt vulnerable and fearful of abandonment and my ego defenses were simply trying to protect me from further pain. Things like denial and anger and blaming feel so much better than vulnerability and abandonment. But when I owned it and humbly acknowledged my hurtful behavior, it allowed for healing and growth for both of us.

So yes, it is true that when my nakedness is revealed, I feel vulnerable and alone, and my ego defenses go up, but when enveloped with love and compassion and acceptance, my defenses dissolve and I feel free and authentic and relieved. And if I really pay attention, I notice an expansion of my heart space. Until next time – Diane