Dr. King's outlook included: Dr. King will be included to today's rumination. But we'll start with something George Will wrote concerning Donald J. Trump.
Will's column appeared in Sunday's Washington Post. At one point, he offered this:
WILL (1/20/19): Dislike of [Trump] should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made..."It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump!" We think of Bob Dylan's prescient portrait of Trump, the one he wrote in 1968:
Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself.
I pity the poor immigrant"Poor immigrant" is metaphorical here. It seems to us that Dylan was describing a person who has journeyed far away from his own self, from his own soul, from his capacity for basic decency and goodness.
Who wishes he would’ve stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
Who lies with every breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise fears his death
Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me.
Dylan counseled pity for such unfortunate persons; Will comes close to doing the same. Dr. King was there to remind us of the greatness of the hundreds of millions of people whose names you'll never hear:
DR. KING (2/4/68): Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve.For the fuller quote, see below.
For the record, no one is required to be great, and few of us will ever reach any such level. But the world is full of good decent people who don't exist in the fallen state described in Dylan's song.
How did Trump become the way he is? We can't answer your question.
Through the ultimate accident, that of birth, he was saddled with a father who seems to have had terrible values. Who knows what else may have helped make him the person he is?
That said, we're all inclined to the imperfect state which Trump has clearly perfected. With that in mind, we're forced to suggest that Will may also be basically right in this earlier part of his column:
WILL: By his comportment, the president benefits his media detractors with serial vindications of their disparagements. They, however, have sunk to his level of insufferable self-satisfaction by preening about their superiority to someone they consider morally horrifying and intellectually cretinous. For most Americans, President Trump’s expostulations are audible wallpaper, always there but not really noticed. Still, the ubiquity of his outpourings in the media’s outpourings gives American life its current claustrophobic feel. This results from many journalists considering him an excuse for a four-year sabbatical from thinking about anything other than the shiny thing that mesmerizes them by dangling himself in front of them.We think that's largely accurate. Our mainstream press and our liberal world are largely driven by the impulse to define oneself as morally superior to the fallen fellow known as Trump.
In this way, our journalists may start to resemble Donald J. Trump himself. There is one major difference, of course:
Donald J. Trump holds the nuclear codes. Our journalistic elites do not.
In the next few days, we'll be looking at some recent fails within our self-impressed liberal world. Next week, our new year will at last begin at this site, with the suggestion that we need a whole new gestalt or picture or paradigm as we think about the basic way our species tends to function.
Donald J. Trump is the poor immigrant we've chosen. We've been choosing him over the course of at least the past thirty years. During that time, our journalists have floundered and failed, with no help from our cosseted coterie of elite logicians.
(For personal reasons, we no longer say "from our professors." We always hated saying that. In the last year, we stopped.)
The world of Dr. King was full of good decent people. By way of contrast, our modern elites have by and large largely failed.
Might the functioning of these elites be described as a chastening example of the misperception called "Aristotle's error?" Our new year starts next week.
The fuller quotation: Few of us will ever rise to the level of being "great." Nor should we feel that greatness is required.
With that in mind, here is Dr. King's fuller quotation:
DR. KING (2/4/68): Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve.For Dylan's full lyrics, click this.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
"No people are uninteresting," Yevtushenko said in his poem, People. We will assume that includes Trump's voters, even the pitiable Trump himself.
"Whom we knew as faulty, the earth's creatures." For Yevtushenko's full text, click here.