Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

To Trump or Be Trumped

I awake the morning after the inauguration from a dream I don’t remember, but its mood lingers in the words I whisper into the dusky arctic dawning: That was my first Trump Dream. The most ominous word in that phrase is “first”. There will be more. This is Day One of Four Years. How will we possibly endure?

A one sentence email from my brother this morning, copied to a small clutch of our immediate family, says: Listened to the inauguration speech on my drive to work – feel sick. Accompanying it is the New Yorker cartoon of the Lincoln Memorial, the venerable president leaning forward, holding his head in his hands.

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Or did I send that cartoon as a response, after I read the email in bed? It’s all a fog, like the descending despair that could move a stone to weep, and I vow to stop reading news headlines in bed. I couldn’t bear to watch the inauguration though. I even approached the New Yorker articles that would deliver its highlights with trepidation.

Still, I felt a tinge of hope. Many of us have felt it since election day, the inkling that Trump will soon exhibit signs of normality, reasonableness even. It’s the kind of hope with which you view the school bully as he rightens a fallen tetherball pole – See, he’s not all bad! For months we have hoped Trump will show us that it was an act, that pompous posturing during the primaries. God help us, it wasn’t. Trump does indeed surprise, but in the opposite way. He is the bully who launches the pole through the principal’s window after bashing a six-year-old’s head in with it. We stare, stunned. Still we retain a smidgen of hope – This is it, he can’t get any worse! 

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“He was once funny ha-ha, but now he’s just funny terrifying.”

 

God help us, he can. My hope has been replaced by cringing incredulity – What next? A tiny case in point: Rick Perry appointed to lead the Department of Energy thought he would be “taking on a role as global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry”.  He was last seen eyes closed blowing chewing gum bubbles during the inaugural benediction. What kind of morons are these people?

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“My team of advisers is so fantastic it’s unbelievable.”

 

Each day seems to contain a decade’s worth of  conflict, unease and bafflement. Four years of this?

I become aware that my American citizenship has never mattered more. It used to be my default status; I was born under the red, white and blue, but never strongly identified as an American, even before I went to live abroad for the first time at age twenty-one. Now it is a source of anxiety as the very concept “American” is threatened. What will become of the country? What will become of my citizenship? The old slogan “America, Love It or Leave It” appears to be solidifying into policy. There are so many ways I can feel targeted: Woman, Moslem background, Gay relationship, Ex-Patriot, Socialist (because I prefer living in Norway where my tax dollars – no more than my brother pays in CA – cover health care and college tuition, for starters). What’s left of being American than my passport?

There is something. The onset of the Trumpian Era makes me conscious of loving my home country. I feel for it. I worry about it. Answering the email to my relatives this morning I didn’t know what to say. I felt like I was speaking to the immediate survivors at a funeral, not sure how to respond: Sorry for your loss? Hope you endure? I’m thinking about you? Be safe?

Then I can’t help myself, the tiny tinge of hope returns and I want to write: It probably won’t be that bad. Things will turn out. I am reminded of my bicycle accident in August. My first experience with ambulance-trauma instilled in me a belief I had never had before: When talking to a victim of trauma, lie and tell them they will be okay. It’s only a lie because you have no idea if they’ll really be okay. You are not the doctor. You are a bystander, or maybe the paramedic. Maybe you are ten years old. It doesn’t matter: lie and tell them they will be okay. They need to hear it.

I needed to hear it, faced with fear and uncertainty as I was. I didn’t care if it was true, I didn’t care who said them. I just wanted to hear those words. Perhaps that keeps me from feeling totally drenched in the pessimism I feel about Trump. It makes me want to shake my head, render my gobsmacked jaw into a more becoming position, and write: It’ll be okay. I didn’t though. Who am I to say that to those living in the reality of Trump’s presidency. Still, in the big picture, it’s not a lie. Everything does work out for the good. There are no mistakes. I believe that heart and soul. But that big picture perspective is not one of nations, rather of individuals, the living and growing our souls do while temporarily sojourning in human form. Trump is just one of those humans too, but his sojourn is center stage right now and directly influencing the living and growing millions of individuals are going through.

God help us remember that Trump, too, shall pass. Everything will, eventually, be okay. Even better. Maybe not in my lifetime. All I can do for now is observe, engage, learn, grow, maybe understand for the first time in my life what it means to be an American.

And hope.

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