Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The POTUS and the Pea

Vulgar, vain, shallow, narcissistic, ignorant, racist men have run every institution in the world for thousands of years. Trump is only abnormal because in this one country and this one office, we’ve been spoiled - and even here, only lately so - with unusually elevated figures, even, in retrospect, GW Bush (that reframing, btw, offers a useful glimpse of the larger truth).

The fact that we’re all swooning and stressed over this guy is evidence of something I keep pointing to again and again: the downside of life being so wonderful here in The Future is that we're hypersensitive to mere displeasure. We're all princesses more and more vexed by smaller and smaller mattress peas. In utopia mere normality (which this guy absolutely is, in the long view of human history) strikes us as unendurable hell.

When I posted the above to Facebook, a friend answered:
We should expect better. We’ve evolved.
Here's how I replied:
Have you evolved your ability to frame situations realistically, per my posting above? Or are you still exhibiting the ancient fussy neediness, where we need conditions to scan as "just right" before we can get on with enjoying our precious time here?

In my view, evolution consists of expanding perspective, not wrangling a more favorable gift bag of preference results and checkboxes checked. Evolution is measured by changes in me-in-here, rather than in you-all-out-there.

A peaceful, open, and appreciative internal perspective trumps the default human drive of unquenchable entitlement; of How It Must Play Out For Me to Feel Grateful to be Alive. That, to me, is the potential evolution. And there's no hope of evolving our politics, or anything else, until that happens.

If we've evolved in any conceivable way (and I think humans have progressed miraculously over the millennia), it's been almost exclusively under the stewardship of vulgar, vain, shallow, narcissistic, ignorant, racist men. We work awfully well in spite of them. Any/all evolution happened on their watch.

This isn't my endorsement of that approach, of course. Nor am I complacent about this guy, who I loathe as much as anyone. But this is not the worst life experience any generation has ever felt. On contrary, we are overwhelmingly, obscenely, ridiculously more comfortable, secure, healthy, fed, and entertained than any human beings ever dared imagine, and our forebears surely hate us for our spoiled, disgusting, ungrateful failure to appreciate it. I sense their roiling anger.


trampdad said...

Yes. Grasping, selfish, self-absorbed assholes have run things for 1000s of years.

To point out that we have (should have?) evolved beyond this systemic sociopathy is not "fussy neediness".

Jim Leff said...

If that's what you thought I was saying, then you weren't paying attention. This is not a place to quickly browse through, snarking back at memey pull quotes that, in isolation, may have irritated you a little.

My take isn't always correct, but it's always thoughtful. If you're unwilling to invest some thoughtfulness on your end in the reading, you have literally 180 quadrillion other web pages that will serve your needs beautifully.

I write for people who enjoy having their assumptions challenged, and who want to consider nuanced, and non-standard views. I'm deliberately trying NOT to stroke your confirmation bias. So spiteful reductive snarling snark (i.e. any statement carrying a "you fucking asshole", tacitly or explicitly) doesn't really play here.

trampdad said...

Sigh. It's literally exactly what you said.

Your condescension doesn't help.

It's your blog, I'll keep reading it, but doubt I'll comment further.

Jim Leff said...

If I were to model my de-condescension on your example, I'd sigh in exasperation at what I see as obstinate stupidity, feel magnanimous by acknowledging the obvious (it's my blog?), and imagine I'm depriving someone by withholding my input when I've done nothing but snark thoughtlessly.

Jim Leff said...

Just checked and see that you're a long-timer. Sorry, it's hard to remember commenters who post less than once/year, especially via "handles" rather than names.

Online commenting that's both anon and snarky is non-conducive to meaningful engagement, I'd have thought that was obvious. And I get lots of anons flying through and taking a quick facile potshot. I'll try to remember your handle for future so I can give benefit of doubt.

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