Maybe I’m just getting old, but to me, the state of the world seems alarming lately. Ukraine! Gaza! Donald Trump! How can the man who bumbles every speech now and is a convicted felon still get crowds of people following him? And cheering when he comes up with a catch phrase that makes sense?  I cannot comprehend. I’ve disagreed with politicians before, and I remember crying when George W. Bush beat John Kerry, wondering after hearing them debate, how could anyone possibly think he would be a better world leader than John Kerry!? But now, I’d take W. back in a heartbeat in light of what another Trump presidency could mean. And then, if he loses, we might incite a greater Civil War. But that’s not what I started out to say.

There’s my condensed rant. It took me one paragraph to get way off track.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this lately. There are some people in my life whom I hold near and dear–actually love a lot–who are big-time Trump supporters. We have agreed to never talk politics, which is the the only way such a relationship works. However, as this world situation seems more and more precarious, it gets harder not to discuss this with people I care about.

What I’ve come up with to make peace in my own mind is that everyone–EVERYONE–including Donald Trump who is the biggest narcissist I’ve ever encountered, even from afar–believes that what he/she/they thinks/think is right. I used to think Donald Trump was a pathological liar, but I don’t think so anymore. I think he believes what he says, and just thinks the world needs to get in line with him. He’s the ultimate extreme of what I want to talk about.

Everyone believes that those who disagree with them are wrong. That’s why we have heated arguments everywhere from preschool to the Senate Floor. Everybody thinks they have the right view about the world, and NO TWO PEOPLE agree on absolutely everything. So, therefore, the potential for disagreement, even opposition, is boundless.

THEREFORE, each of us needs to be a tiny bit more flexible, right? 

(ASIDE because I cannot pass this over, and it’s a disclaimer for my use of pronouns in the post, and most of all, it’s an instance where I don’t get to pretend that my position is the only correct one): As an English teacher, I have always stressed correct grammar, even though at the college level, one would expect that to be a given. It’s NOT. Pronouns and nouns matching; Pronouns agreeing with their antecedents matter. Pronouns agreeing with their verbs matter. But suddenly, “They” is a correct pronoun for singular person, when that person’s gender is bending, so pronouns have changed. We used to need to say: “Everyone thinks he or she is correct.” Now we must say “Everyone thinks they are correct.” This is not correct grammatically, because “everyone” is singular, but it is correct politically to use “they,” so I must adjust. And so the English language rules are changing in my lifetime. Punctuation? Spelling? Based on our language of texting? Almost all my literate friends still text in complete sentences, with complete spellings, and punctuation, but not so when I text with younger folk. And I am so glad my grandson texts me that I don’t care if he spells tomorrow “tmr.” I just want him to talk to me. SO I adjust.  But when language changes as rapidly as technology has recently, maybe my own perception of the world is NOT the only correct one. 

I say this facetiously. I KNOW my own opinion is not the only correct one!  And I know I must adjust. 

I’m trying to express that maybe all of us need to recognize that everybody might have a tiny bit of truth or reality on their side (Trump might be one exception to that, but I’m trying to be gracious here), but no one can ever lay claim to the ENTIRE truth or reality, necessarily. No one ever is always right. Ever. And maybe that means that no one is always wrong. We can hope. And all the people we think are always wrong have a grain of truth in their point of view, or perhaps, their reality is so different from mine or ours that their truth is what they are experiencing. Even the most die-hard MAGA folks, who make no sense when asked what they believe or quizzed about history, must be disillusioned about how their lives are going, so they want somebody they can believe in to lead them. I guess. They want things to change. They are looking for a savior from their situation. Dear God, a savior in Trump? Remember that fan-made video that I thought was a spoof, but was a play on Paul Harvey’s radio essay “So God Made a Farmer”? I loved that farmer version. My dad was a farmer. But the Trump version almost made me throw up. But it also made me realize how deeply this belief goes, and how much people are looking for a savior. It hearkens the Jews during Roman regime, but that’s for another time. 

So these people, these people who believe blindly, to me it seems unthinkingly, in Trump. Most of those folks don’t realize that THEIR taxes and THEIR financial situation  and THEIR freedoms are NOT going to improve by lowering taxes for the billionaires and by trying to build a non-existent wall to keep other people out of our country who need refuge perhaps worse than their own ancestors did. It’s downright sad to me.

I have not heard Trump propose any other solutions for the state of the country, other than to make it great again. When was it that great in the first place? Can we cite a decade where it was flawless? Of course not. But there’s no other platform, is there? I don’t see a platform. I only see Trump bashing what IS, not what he wants to do. And I’m trying to understand the truth of the MAGA folk so I don’t feel this way. 

So here’s a little Republican truth. Today, according to Reuters, Trump is visiting with both House and Senate Republicans:

“‘The meeting will be forward-focused on how Republicans can work together to advance policies to save America, including protecting Social Security and Medicare, securing the southern border, and cutting taxes for hardworking families,’ a senior Trump campaign official said.'”

Those aren’t realities I associate with Trump’s plan for office, but maybe my reality view is skewed, too. Maybe some of the Republican senators and representatives really do want to save Social Security and Medicare and lower taxes for working folks. Then why can’t the two sides of the aisle come together? Why can’t we reach some sort of solution? God help us all. That’s also a problem. I don’t think God will or can solve this. And I mean God in the broadest terms. We humans on the continent have to solve this. 

So back to my main point. I wanted to emphasize how everyone thinks they are right, and no one is entirely right. I’m a huge Biden supporter, but I sure don’t support how he’s supported Israel in the most recent conflict. Things on that front are looking up a little bit, but we don’t have time for that right now.

The two men who, in my opinion, might be closest to being right all the time are Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. But I do know enough to know that nether of those heroes of mine is infallibly perfect, either. We cannot be perfect. We cannot be perfectly correct. We just have to strive to be as good as we possibly can. As good to the world and those around us as we can. As kind as we can be for as many people as we reach in our lifetime. (Right there might lie the political divide, however).

I keep digressing. And, as Benjamin Franklin was wont to say, he grew proud of his humility and eradicated progress he had made on his own moral improvement.

My point was meant to be that I was excited, feeling actually validated, when I read this blog, which I’ve started to read regularly.

In it, she talks about Benjamin Franklin’s concern at the writing of the Constitution, as to whether the sun was rising or setting on the new country being formed. You can read this for yourself, and I urge you to, but she talks about his own discovery that his own opinions weren’t always entirely correct. 

I quote here from the article, cited above:

“Franklin said that he didn’t entirely approve of the Constitution at present, but he wasn’t sure if he ever would. He realized that he was old and he had experienced many instances of being forced to change his opinion once he had better information. ‘Opinions,’ he said, ‘even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.’

‘It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment and to pay more respect to the judgment of others,’ he said. ‘Most men think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error.'”

…”He encouraged people to ‘doubt a little in their own infallibility.'” 

And so, I find myself delighted to be in Franklin’s company, and I’m happy that I “happened” upon this idea before I read this article.

I don’t have a far-reaching wisdom, and this is not a sermon for anyone. It’s just an exploration of my own self-examination. I think I’m going to go re-read some Benjamin Franklin. And I know how I’m going to vote. 

Becky Avatar

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