Monday, May 15, 2017
It is Mother’s Day 2017, as I sit down to write this posting. It is, to say the least, a confusing time. The confusion stems not from the fact that it is Mother’s Day, but from a much more obvious, much more complicated, source.
The confusion emanates from a brand of governing that is uncommon to our nation as a whole, and to our people as individuals. In spite of all that mothers in general try to teach and display in their mothering and in their living, there is a demonic spirit on display that somehow has managed to grab onto power in all parts of our governmental systems, and to place in jeopardy all that we have learned, generally speaking, from our mothers (and fathers as well).If your mother is anything like my mother – God rest her soul – you probably learned, or were given, some of the following attributes and axioms:
· A sense of right and wrong
· But, no matter how wrong you might have been at times, she still loved you and cherished you just because you were her child
· A sense of responsibility: of caring about yourself, your family, your neighbors, your school, your teachers, your friends, your community; yes, and even about your world.
· And along with that sense of responsibility came a sense of accountability – that it mattered how you behaved, how you talked, how you interacted with others; it mattered enough that if you failed to measure up, there could be a punishment or penalty or confession, or a personal apology or some sort of recompense that somehow was meant to set you on a proper course again. In some circles, that accountability was expressed as penance or atonement or perhaps as punishment.
Turns out, it was more like character-building – an inner sense and understanding that you, as an individual, had a responsibility to conduct yourself in a manner that came from within, that showed what kind of person you were, and what mattered in the scheme of things. It came down to accepting responsibility for your beliefs and your actions, as well as being willing to somehow make amends when you did not measure up to your ideals or to the standards or norms of the various communities within which you functioned.
· Oh, of course, sometimes Mom threw in a little bit of “guilt-sense” as well, and used that to help you understand that “feeling guilty” for something said or done is not always a bad approach. It can be a means of building character; or used too often, can also erode one’s sense of self-worth.
· But, I suspect, in general, that Moms are the quintessential source for gaining that sense of self-worth. They tell us how great we are, how well we did, how proud they are, how touched they were by our thoughts, our gifts, our actions, our talents – you name it – Moms generally have a way of expressing that one thing that all sons and daughters need: that sense of knowing that you make a difference; that you are important to somebody; that you are unique in some way that matters to someone; that you can accomplish things that you didn’t know you could; that you have something about you that can contribute to others; that you are special.
I weep for those who did not gain this from either parent or from a significant parental figure because of unusual circumstances. And, although this won’t sit well with those who belittle the mutual responsibility we have toward the welfare of others, I can’t help but believe that one of the duties of society – of government and of private sector enterprise – is the oft-neglected mentoring of the young, the provision of new opportunities for developing a sense of self-worth and engagement in community-building and service that leads to a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
· And finally, there is that ingredient that cannot be overlooked or down-played. Moms simply try to love you no matter what. That is their greatest gift, of course. Not only does it appear to be a gift they possess, but it is a gift that they give to their children in every way they possibly can. Some have failed to do so; we cannot expect perfection. But most mothers simply lavish love upon their children and grandchildren, and that is why we celebrate Mother’s Day.So where does this sense of confusion come from that I mentioned at the beginning? It comes very simply from a loss of some of these values that mothers possess and demonstrate. It comes from a new brand of governing that excludes some of our most cherished norms and standards. It comes from a cohort of voters who seem to believe that it is all right to turn our ideals upside down so that we say one thing but do another. It comes from a philosophy and belief system built not upon responsibility, accountability and opportunity, but upon a principle of might-makes-right; separation from certain people defined as inferior or maladjusted. It comes from a belief that being great or being first or being the winner means denigrating others. It comes from a sense that one cannot trust the words or statements of leaders whom we have elected or appointed to important offices of government or of large corporations. The confusion comes when debate and discussion and research; analysis and targeted problem-solving are all abandoned in favor of distorted opinions, lies, made-up problems, and the orders of one-man-in-charge. In such a situation, confusion is inevitable and chaos reigns.
But now, as of this moment, we have moved to another level of confusion and chaos, for we have moved to a level where the leader (Fuhrer?) has begun to tear down the very fabric of our government. We must understand that when a president begins to obstruct the lawful mechanisms of governing is when the entire structure begins to be eroded. The firing of James Comey as Director of the FBI, based, not on cause, but on the leader’s opinion that Comey was “not doing a good job.” This marks the turning of political disagreement into illegal activity that reminds one clearly of the Nixon era when the same-type obstruction occurred. Our representatives in Congress acted then as they should have. The current representatives, in the Republican Party at least, are hiding from their responsibilities, and attempting to let such actions “blow over” just long enough so they can gain re-election. They are themselves tearing at the fabric of our checks and balances system of governing by their neglect of the constitutional responsibility of their co-equal branch of government.
Confusion is too weak a word in this circumstance. We are besieged by a lack of character, of courage and of accountability. We are in danger of ignoring the threat to our democratic ideals. We are too accommodating and we are too kind-hearted, and we too often lean toward waiting to see what will happen, hoping that everything is going to work out well. But in the case of lethal attacks upon our way of governing and upon our truths, ideals, principles and virtues, we cannot wait for an outcome that will never occur. We cannot take the chance that too many countries have taken by ignoring and under-estimating those who intend to “deconstruct” or to destroy what has been built by forbearers and folk heroes and ordinary citizens.
We must hold office-holders accountable for their misdeeds and their misbehaviors and even their misspoken words. Moms know what psychiatrists have studied and absorbed: that malfeasance must be acknowledged, pointed out and punished as close to the wrong-doing as is possible. Otherwise the importance of accountability for wrongdoing is diminished. So far, Mr. Trump has been given too many passes and allowed too many excuses for his behavior. It is time to stop the charade and to let everyone know that this emperor has no clothes.
Using government for one’s own profit is not appropriate, so let us continually remind all who will listen that Trump has inappropriately allowed his daughter and son-in-law to use his picture and his office to enhance profitability; to attend political and/or governmental meetings at which his daughter had no other business than the family business with the foreign dignitaries present. And then there is Trump Towers as well as many more Trump properties. They are monetarily cleaning up with payments for accommodations, meetings, conferences, gatherings and meet and greets for all manner of people with connections to other governments, or to national enterprises that can be either exploitive or exploited for financial gain.
But, all that may pale in comparison to the debacle of recent days, as the leader has not missed a chance to be impetuous, imbecilic, impulsive, bumbling, caught in untruths, and making up items (tapes of Comey) that probably do not exist. However, should a Nixon-style taping system exist in the Oval Office, there must be repercussions of major proportions.
Moreover, the optics of a leader of this country meeting in the Oval Office with two apparatchiks of Russia, and now accused of sharing highly classified information with them - while excluding American journalists from the meeting; instead allowing TASS to publish the story of the meeting - amounts to a picture that cannot be endured. All of this while most likely under investigation for improper connections to the Russian leader and Russian oligarchs and to their hacking and interference with our 2016 elections. And that’s not all – here is the former candidate who belittled, attacked and denigrated Hillary Clinton for possible exposure of classified information in her emails on a private server, whom he called a criminal who should be locked up. If Trump is shown to have given highly classified information to the Russians while meeting with them in the Oval Office, he has gone beyond misbehavior to traitor. Time to deliver a suitable recompense for this entirely unacceptable behavior. Talk about high crimes and misdemeanors – if he keeps it up, the list of impeachable offenses will go on for pages!
It is past time for an independent investigator/prosecutor to take charge of this whole Trump debacle!