Lost Faith in America

It’s no secret I absolutely abhor and have trouble accepting Donald Trump as president of the United States. He was a bête noire long before he announced his candidacy, his election and his first two years in the White House.
I’ve struggled to understand the uncharacteristic depth of my dislike since he announced his candidacy. My almost daily need to share and comment on Trump’s shortcomings and failures on Facebook, now the virtual pro- v. anti-Trump battleground.
An epiphany occurred at the Sunday church service, the first day of advent in the Christian calendar. Celebrating with an Advent wreath is a meaningful custom in many Christian traditions begun in 16th-century Germany. Four candles are typically arranged on a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity with a fifth in the center. One candle is lit each Sunday as a part of Advent services, each candle representing an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ into the world. Each of the four candles stands for one thousand years to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior.
In the Methodist Church, the first candle lit represents “Hope.”
It was also Communion Sunday and – kneeling at the chancel rail – it suddenly occurred to me that my disgruntlement with our president is a symptom of something deeper.
I’ve lost hope. Hope in America, its future, the future for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
It’s a shocking, disturbing self-discovery.
I had hope for America after JFK was assassinated. I had hope at the end of the Decade of Assassinations – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, the Birmingham church bombing, the civil rights workers in Mississippi, Bobby Kennedy. I had hope during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.
I had hope for America when I volunteered for and served in Vietnam in 1969, returning to be briefed not to tell anyone where I’d been, to change out of my uniform to civvies before we left the base.
I had hope for America through Kent State, Watergate and Nixon’s impeachment, the bombings during 1970, the Olympic bombing, Oklahoma City and the Unabomber.
I had hope for America during the Persian Gulf and Iraq wars, Clinton and Lewinsky.
I had hope for America after 9/11. I’d purchased a jacket designed with the stars & stripes at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I wore it proudly in Europe, Asia and South America for almost a decade while working and traveling, unafraid because I had hope for America.
I had hope for America during the Obama administration when race moved to the forefront of our American agenda more divisively and deadlier than it had been 50 years before. Through the school massacres and the Boston marathon.
And these are only the top of mind occurrences which challenged my hope for America.
For me, Trump is the personification of that lost hope.
Who he was and how he behaved when the real-estate mogul and reality TV star is the same as he is as president. The American people got nothing new, his oath of office notwithstanding.
For me, he lacks character, is amoral and immoral, unethical, egomaniacal with little interest in opinions different from his own, narcissistic with the need to be the center of attention, racist, misogynistic, a liar, vulgar, antisocial and paranoid, lacks empathy, makes up his own reality and rules to fit whatever he wants them to be, defies the status quo and makes quick, impulsive decisions based on his self-professed superior intelligence and gut. Psychologists call the combination of egotistical traits, hunger for power with impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited decision-making psychopathy.
My insight isn’t justification for my public reactions to and denunciations of his behavior. But the understanding does, on one hand, validate my attempts to challenge the judgment and wisdom of We, the people, when we cast our votes, which I will continue to do. And on another, bare a personal dark side from which I need to consciously struggle to escape.

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