These days it’s hard to tell whether a commentator given to exaggeration is speaking with hyperbole. Nothing surprises anymore, and everything seems leveled out by stultifying sameness.
Take this sentence for example. Is the writer speaking with acute exaggeration, or does he mean what he says? “While many fresh occupants of the Oval Office are supposed to light a few scented candles and rid the Resolute Desk of the prior occupant’s stench, Biden was supposed to perform an exorcism.”
Clearly, the writer isn’t serious, and doesn’t understand how close to the truth he comes. He’s taking poetic license to distance himself from the realities of evil, which go far beyond Trumpian “dynamics.”
Twice more the pundit uses theological language for literary and political and effect. When “Biden stepped to the podium at the United Nations on Tuesday to deliver his first speech to the General Assembly as president…he had to prove that the exorcism had taken.”
His next sentence confirms that he’s willfully naïve about what is happening in America: “But here’s the thing about Trump’s possession of America: It was made possible by untended sentiments among many voters.”
There you have it in a nutshell, the standard liberal/progressive worldview. “Trump’s possession of America was made possible by unintended sentiments,” when in truth, America’s possession by intended sentiments made Trump possible.
A large majority of conservatives and Republicans have given themselves over to the darkness that permeates American culture, while hatefully projecting it onto Democrats and ‘liberals.’
Such people exemplify Jesus’ injunction, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Democrats and liberals, on the other hand, “choose” to ignore evil, or downplay it, or play word games with it, as the writer above does.
Other pundits are taking an almost fatalistic attitude, writing things like: “It was always possible, theoretically, to manipulate the rules to seize power from the voters…all Trump needs is a rival slate of electoral votes from contested states, state officials and state legislatures willing to intervene on his behalf, a supportive Republican majority in either house of Congress, and a sufficiently pliant Supreme Court majority.”
The writer’s supine, self-fulfilling attitude is clear when he falsely and foolishly adds: “In this world, the voters, as filtered through the Electoral College, no longer choose the president. If that happens, it would be a revolutionary change.”
No, that would not be revolutionary change, and it is reactionary to say so. Such a totalitarian scenario would merely be a continuation and culmination of the long decline of America. Given the present zeitgeist, revolutionary change is required to prevent descending into flat-out fascism.
Without echoing the usual cliché about ‘all evil needs,’ are there enough people who still give a damn urgently to stand against the pervasive evil in America? Or it will continue to grow and manifest again in even worse form, whether that’s in the form of “the former guy or not.”
What can be done? We have to first and always begin with the darkness within ourselves. That includes withholding our reactions when confronted with evil, which is a very difficult thing to do.
Many people of the progressive persuasion believe that evil doesn’t exist except as we perceive or project it, or that we ‘attract’ it by the darkness within us. That too is willfully naïve. Evil attacks self-knowing people who are genuinely facing and cleansing themselves of their own inseparable portion of darkness. Is that why so few do?
In any case, there’s no choice now but to face and own the darkness within oneself, and meet and stand against evil when one encounters it.
Evil is collective darkness plus intentionality. It hates stillness and silence, insight and understanding.
Inner and outer darkness (and when it comes down to it there is no difference) can be the best teacher. Evil draws out the worst within us. By remaining with the anger, hatred, fear and violence that is buried within nearly all of us, we learn. And in non-accumulatively learning, we turn the tables on evil, and defeat it.
In not reacting (by watching one’s inner reactions like a hawk), there is space and stillness, and one sees how to respond intelligently and effectively to evil.
Perhaps then even those who believe that liberals drink the blood of slaughtered babies can turn around and begin to face themselves.