Does life get out of balance for you sometimes? Too much work, play, snacking (Hallowe’en treats!) . . . CNN. When I tell my husband B the latest goings on in his country’s politics, he sighs heavily, says, “You’ve got to stop. You’ve just got to let it go.”
Why is it so intriguing? I mean, we have municipal elections coming up and, while I’m educated on the issues, I wouldn’t want to immerse myself in them 24/7.
To be fair, not all breaking news coming from south of our border pertains to US politics. There’s the horrifying devastation of the two hurricanes – Florence, then Michael. And now, like something from a spy novel, the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who’d fled from Saudi Arabia last year and was last seen October 2nd entering the consulate in Instanbul, Turkey to get a marriage document. The latest on that according to CNN? “Khashoggi’s body was cut into pieces, Turkish official says.” Oh . . . my . . . goodness. Absolutely sickening. Beyond fiction really.
As are the daily happenings in the White House. I mean, consider the unlikeliness, prior to Trump’s presidential victory in 2016, of the creation of a Netflix series as remotely outrageous as what actually occurs daily in the Trump administration.
If the controversial appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court wasn’t enough to grab our attention, there was Trump’s follow-up mockery of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at a campaign rally in Mississippi. US poet, author and photographer Tyler Knott Gregson articulated his feelings, which match mine, in a post that started like this: “I am terrified at what we’re facing, looking out over the landscape in this country, I’m petrified and even more than that, I am ashamed. We are living in a world right now in which the President can stand before an amplified and hate-fueled throng and mock a woman brave enough to step forward and recount what was arguably the worst day of her life.”
Gregson’s inspiring poetry revolves around love; Trump’s rhetoric revolves around . . . what? Love of himself? Inspiring fear or great suspicion of anything “other”, be it party, nationality, preferred news source? Fear is a great motivator, sure, and when I was young, fear of the strap certainly kept me and my peers in line. We’ve grown up, though, haven’t we?
It’s mind-blowing, isn’t it? That the leader of what is considered the greatest nation in the world, in terms of economic and military might, could use words and actions with such blatant disregard for human decency? While also cozying up to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong-un? Devolving backwards – away from human rights advances that prior great leaders and activists have made – is a big fear for me.
Trump cries “fake news” so much it’s become part of our lexicon. He’s gone further though, ending a tweet in which he lambasted the media for dishonesty, by calling them the “enemy of the people!” Michael D’Antonio, writing an opinion piece for CNN on Trump’s recent interview on 60 Minutes, says that experts recently warned the UN, “We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence.” A few weeks after that tweet? A man arrested by the FBI for violent threats against staff at the Boston Globe included “enemy of the people” in his message.
D’Antonio says, “Worldwide, the first year of the Trump administration saw the highest number of journalist killings ever recorded.” Yikes. According to the Washington Post, 2018 has been “brutal” for journalists, with 43 (44 now I guess, if you add Khashoggi) killed in the line of duty so far. Words have power and it’s downright shocking to hear the ones coming from President Trump. His defamation lawsuit from Stormy Daniels was recently thrown out and rather than just appreciate the win he calls her “horseface”. GOP Rep Chris Stewart admits this is “rude, unnecessary and not helpful”.
I had the chance to see Coriolanus, Shakespeare’s last tragedy, at Stratford recently. I highly recommend it, not only for the incredibly unique set design which makes it appear as though you’re watching the live performance on varying sizes of high-definition TVs, but also for its relevance to our times.
Coriolanus, an uncompromising character with an excess of valour, calls his enemies – the common people – “the beast with many heads”. He can’t understand, actually despises the people of Rome, who will not go above and beyond when it comes to battle. So you have a leader who cannot empathize with the people.
When questioned on the implications of the historic mob morphing into social media in modern society, director Robert Lepage says, “For me, it’s a question of balance. A well-balanced society relies on freedom of expression but also on putting political decisions in the hands of specialists, people who are educated. We should always be able to criticize those decisions, but we’re in a world right now where it’s a bit out of whack.”
Lepage, well-versed on the successes and failures of the Roman empire due to his line of work, goes on to say, “So we have to stop blaming the system; we have to understand that what matters is the leader. Who’s the king, who’s the prime minister, who’s the president – that’s what makes a government good or not. It’s all ruled by human nature.”
Throughout the play, the dialogue doesn’t give us a chance to see inside Coriolanus’s head, so we don’t truly know his integrity, but we do know he’s courageous. Trump? Through Twitter we never stop seeing inside his head, and it’s a most unpleasant and unbalanced place.
Now – because today it’s legal in Canada – I think I’ll go light one up, spend sometime inside my own head, where I work daily on things like gratitude, kindness, non-judgment, letting go, forgiveness, balance.