My older son said something once I liked to quote as an aphorism, because it's so true: "People are the worst!"
I'm not even sure exactly what it means. Just that emphasis on worst — I really like to get my back into it. A general summation of how humans fail their lofty potential.
I could write for hours on the subject. But today I will just focus on one aspect. Raw hypocrisy. How you can say and do one thing, applying a standard to someone else, for years, and then flip around 180 degrees when convenient and embrace something exactly opposite for yourself. How does a person do that?
Consider this email from Sunday:
I got very upset when I read your column on Friday. Again, you were so critical and disrespectful to President Elect Trump.Here she signed her name, which I will withhold, so as not to subject her to abuse. Nobody should experience that.
Stirring up more hate against him divides our country when we should be healing it and working together to solve our problems.
Donald Trump was elected by the people and will be the President of the United States.
Please give him the respect that comes with that office and support him when he does something praiseworthy.
To be honest, I've stopped answering most people. I think I added more readers to the filter Friday than I've added all year. I'm just so tired of reading their diatribes, their lengthy manifestos, their point-by-point bullshit refutations that are only persuasive if you already believe everything they're saying. I'm tired of answering, of trying to be polite, of doing that thinky-feelly thing I do.
But this one, I couldn't resist. This is what I wrote back:
Question: did you give Barack Obama "the respect that comes with that office"?No answer of course. You never get an answer.* They're shocked you wrote them back at all. And they certainly aren't going to jump through this intellectual hoop just because I hold it in front of their nose. They just shrug, I assume, and move on. It's not as if anybody does any self-assessment. Not that anyone slaps their forehead and thinks, "Ohhhh! He means the way I slagged Barack Obama, a dignified, thoughtful man, as a secret Muslim terrorist, and castigated his elegant, sophisticated wife as Chewbacca, fooling myself that my dimwit racist code somehow went undetected, then spun around and salaamed at the feet of this foul-mouthed yam and his mail order bride wife and demanded they immediately be extended the full pomp and respect of the presidency despite their jaw-dropping 18 months spent appealing to the toilet of American political life. Yeah, I guess there is a double standard at work there."
Thanks for writing.
Nobody does that. It's naive to expect anyone would. My bad. What I've finally figured out is that honesty and reason can be as deceptive as deceit and folly, if you assume other people are using them, that truth forms some kind of hard bottom to the world. Reason can be the mat of woven rushes over the pit. Rather than assume sense, it is better to assume people are idiotic, mean, tribal, hypocritical.
People are the worst.
There was no mystery here. The great tragedy is, it was all apparent. Anyone deceived has only himself to blame. The Democrats kept pointing out the inconsistencies, the lies, the fraudulence, and the hypocrisy. As if that mattered. It's like going to McDonald's and hectoring people in line about the calories. "Yeah, yeah, shut up, I'm getting a Big Mac and Biggie Fries anyway..."
In the end, it didn't matter. None of it mattered. This election—maybe every election—was about what voters chose to focus on, what they felt was important. Not experience. Not judgment. Not temperament. Not fairness. Not character.
Trump supporters wanted change, and voted for him, end of story. It's like jumping off a cliff to feel the breeze. It's like going to a bar and ordering the strychnine because you like the bottle it comes in.
"You know that's poison," the bartender might even say. "It'll kill you."
"That's okay," you say. "I'm looking for a change, and I really like the bottle and am really thirsty."
"Okay..." he says, pouring a big slug. "It's your funeral."
* In this case I did, later Sunday:
Dear Mr. Steinberg,In response to your question, "Did you show respect to President Barack Obama?"The answer is Yes! REALLY
Thank you for considering my opinion.
To which I replied:
That's encouraging. Of course I will judge Trump by what he does. He already seems to be backing away from his most extreme beliefs, which is encouraging.