Friday, March 23, 2018

When Trump is re-elected, we'll remember "An Enemy of the People"


Tadeus Langier, Zakopane
by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Saturday evening, out on the town, we had finished dinner and were strolling to the theater. I was about to draw my wife's attention to the dead body on the sidewalk across the street, then thought better of it.
     We were on the northeast corner of Dearborn and Lake, heading to the Goodman Theatre, attempting to cross west, when we came upon the tableau. The cop standing beside the corpse gestured for us to go south instead. We took his direction. Acting on instinct, I raised my iPhone up and snapped a photo: cop, yellow tape, 7-Eleven, police SUV, and a body wrapped in a white sheet.
     It didn't take a sleuth to figure out where it came from. Balconies directly above. It was St. Patrick's Day. We had threaded our way through mobs of costumed revelers, lining up to get into places I never imagined anyone would line up to get into. Moe's? Really?
     So either suicide or tragic, booze-induced, hey-look-I-can-balance-on-this-railing accident.
     A photo wants to be shared. I considered posting it to social media, Facebook and Twitter, with a wry remark about Chicago on a Saturday night. But I immediately dismissed that idea, for a value that doesn't get touted as much as it should: because there are people other than myself, friends and family members of the man on the sidewalk. They were about to get the worst news of their lives. Why add a note of indifference if not mockery just so I can flash sardonic?
     Lately I've been thinking that people can be roughly divided into two types: those who sympathize with others and those who don't. Those who can shift their perspective away from themselves to contemplate the condition of someone else. And those whose small well of sympathy is drained dry sprinkling concern over themselves and those immediately around them.

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11 comments:

  1. Dan Carlin, of the Hardcore History podcast, made a case lately that perhaps our normal empathy is a relatively recent occurance, fostered by books and plays, etc.

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  2. Thanks for reminding me of a possible second term. I suppose the electorate could vote against their interests again. Since your 16 word description of the gubernatorial candidates I've encountered a brilliant 15 word take on Herr Drumpf. In his book "Putin, his Downfall and Russia's Coming Crash", Richard Lourie writes, "Donald Trump, a man of boundless ambition and self-love uncorrected by character or conscience..." You can fool...... You know the rest.

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  3. I hope this quote from Thackeray's Vanity Fair is appropriate in light of today's column:
    Old Osborne did not speculate much on the mingled nature of his feelings, and how his instinct and selfishness were combating together. He firmly believed that everything he did was right, that he ought on all occasions, to have his own way--and like the sting of a wasp or serpent his hatred rushed out armed and poisonous against anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred as of everything else. Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?

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    1. Beautiful! The Great Victorians did know a thing or two, including that there's nothing entirely new under the sun. Even Trump.

      Tom

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  4. I get what you're saying here, Neil--at least, I think I do--but I have to say, it makes me bristle just a little. It smacks faintly of those "Cletus safari" articles where Trump supporters in a diner in Scrapple, Pa. say, well, maybe he won't bring back all those coal jobs like he said he would, but gosh, he sure speaks his mind and isn't that great...

    No it isn't. I'm sick of being asked to understand and empathize with a pack of idiots who put a ridiculously unqualified fraud and buffoon into the White House, where he is humiliating this country, and the damage he does is limited by nothing but his own incompetence. Fools are fools, and 99 percent of the time, "reaching out" to them is a waste of time. I'm done. If that makes me a self-righteous practitioner of "practical indifference and grandiose extremism," then so be it.

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    1. Bitter, you've caught up in an epidemic with the rest of us. Curse our fate but find a way to fight back. Will this right wing Supreme Court actually rule on gerrymandering or do we have to get deep in the trenches like the conservatives have done since we sent Nixon packing? Was it Confucious or Twain who warned against arguing with a fool? Whatever it takes we need to win locally to stop the neo-racist 40 percent and avaricious, soulless One percent from ruining our country. They will still be here when their current champion is long gone, and unless we find a winning strategy, the next hero could be a Hitler who doesn't ignore his generals.

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  5. I just saw this quote of Barack Obama's today, and it kinda applies, so I'll throw it out there:

    "When I think about how I understand my role as a citizen ... the most important stuff I've learned I think I've learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of greys, but there's still truth there to be found, and you have to strive for that and work for that. And the notion that it's possible to connect with some[one] else even though they're very different from you."

    That being said, I kinda agree with the Scribe, Bitter as usual. ; )

    Empathizing with evangelicals and others who twist themselves in circles to support a corrupt, libertine, dangerous, incompetent charlatan is not only difficult, but seemingly pointless and probably will land one hopelessly in the hellish grip of Bothsiderism. And, sadly, it didn't work out all that well for Obama, as far as getting any cooperation or consideration from his foes, either. Merrick Garland, anyone? ; )

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    1. History will hold Obama in high regard.

      TE

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  6. Does the picture at the head of the blog today depict a suicide?

    john

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  7. Eerie photo of that man.

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Thanks for commenting.