The child in all of us sometimes expects the adult to put on the brakes. Stop me before I get hurt, it says. The child also looks up to the parent and gets upset when the powerful figure shows feet of clay – and hopes that he will become more circumspect – presidential perhaps.
And then there is the parent in us all. Sometimes we are indulgent – boys will be boys, isn’t he kinda cute when he misbehaves. But something pushes us over the edge – he doesn’t listen to me, he’s out of control.
When it’s all in the family, usually we can count others to step in when we lose it. But now these games are playing out on an international stage. The entertaining child got himself elected as president. Things aren’t going as planned. he gets up at five o’clock in the morning and issues tweets. Everything is someone else’s fault. We worry about bullying of school kids on the internet. But getting back at your political opponents on Twitter takes this to a whole new level.
As a Canadian, I watch this with a mixture of disbelief and familiarity. I’ve noticed for years that America defines itself in terms of being against somebody – Communist Russia, gays, Isis – but also Republicans or Democrats depending on your starting point. Terrorism terrifies because it can’t be dealt with through conventional warfare – and the enemy might be sitting next to you. The fear is totally irrational – nine Americans dying per year via terrorism since 2001 versus 12,000 shot to death via non-terrorism incidents according to the New York Times. And to make it worse, Americans have been responsible for those terrorism related deaths – not foreigners.
It’s easy to see the problem. It’s harder to see a solution when what unites the opposing sides is their fear. Instant access to news and our addiction to it makes it almost impossible to step back. How to make America safe again is not going to be easy. It’s not safety from terrorists that is the issue so much as relief from its own fears.
Meanwhile the sun continues to rise – there are clouds but in the larger world there is much more light than darkness.