“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, 585 BC)
Chief Amongst Sinners
If I had five minutes with the most powerful man on the planet: I wouldn’t waste time talking politics or economic policy. I wouldn’t squander a precious second inquiring about mounting scandals or ongoing special investigations or immigration reform or healthcare. I wouldn’t ask about manic, late night tweets, the Iron Curtain (Mexican wall), Playboy bunnies or Russian collusion. I wouldn’t wrangle with trivial shit! Generally speaking, I can put up with a lot (long checkout lines, bumper-to-bumper traffic, crackheads living under the Mass Ave Bridge…whatever). But (for some strange reason), I have zero tolerance for disingenuous “mind games” or hypocritical “white lies” (alternative facts, plausible deniability or willful ignorance). On the contrary, instead of tunneling down that endless “shithole,” if my black ass had a few moments with the President of the United States, I’d start with one simple question (I’d cut right to the chase): do you believe in God, Mr. President? (because you certainly don’t act like it).
And of course (like most people), our fearless leader would divulge the same ol’ politically correct, knee-jerk retort (like all mindless, God-fearing Americans). As a matter of fact, the money-grubbing blowhard would probably confess “yes” with an unbridled indignation and teary eye (and maybe a stern finger wag, to boot). Our Commander-in-Chief might even whistle “Yankee Doodle Dandy” or hum “God Bless America” (with his hand over his heart, of course); adding just enough sentiment “to seal the deal” (convincing all onlookers and constituents with his blatant mellow-drama).
Harkens me back to Government 101: “politics has no relations to morals” (Machiavelli). Thus in today’s geo-politics, it’s far more imperative (according to the architect of the modern empire and homeland security) to “look good” as opposed to actually “being good” (kinda like our silent white majority). Because (in essence), if an elected official has to do some really fucked up, unethical, illegal, immoral, selfish shit, a good person may hesitate (just a tad). That’s why we don’t crucify people in the public square anymore, but to keep our squeaky clean image intact, we use Guantanamo Bay instead. In the same vein, Machiavelli concluded that personal injury (or any kind of harm) should be inflicted on adversaries “so swiftly and severely” that “vengeance need not be feared” (does that paranoid, guns under the pillow, America first, my-way-or-the-highway, uncompromising, iron-fisted, blow-you-to-smithereens rhetoric sound super-familiar right about now?).
And even more perplexing, how can a Christian fundamentalist misconstrue (or reconcile) that negative (authoritarian) energy with Jesus Christ (the underemployed handyman of turn-the-other-cheek fame…so much for “the meek shall inherit the earth” and “love thine enemy”)? I mean, Jesus was so gentle “a bruised flower he would not squash, no flickering candle would he snuff” (Isaiah 42:3). Maybe I missed the Bible Belt memo, but that sounds like the antithesis of Donald Trump (the Machiavellian Prince). And since when did rules and regulations outweigh (or trump) the truth of Christ (living in us)? Did we (America the unfaithful harlot) not learn from Prohibition? Did people not indulge (drink) more recklessly and “sinfully” by excessive damnation and rigid legalism (hello Roaring Twenties)? By contrast, Christ–not for one millisecond–never attempted to remove (or obliterate) “sin” (impossible, my people). The gift of eternal wisdom is in raising children (future generations) that intuitively “overcome sin” (i.e. that aren’t even interested in getting shit-faced or going overboard or acting like conceited, entitled idiots).
No matter how you slice it, after his preemptive religious response, I’d ask the leader of the free world my second (closely related) question: “Mr. President, sir, with all due respect, what (by chance) do you think God is?” (I’d anticipate a very long and unforgiving pause at this juncture). Obviously, my superior may have endless amounts of money and an epic hair stylist that should be nominated for a Congressional medal in fine art (not a hair follicle out of place–unmoved by neither inclement weather nor the powerful turbines of Air Force One). I mean, golly gee whiz, I have a working knowledge of particle physics, evolutionary biology, world history and quantum theory; but I have absolutely no clue how the hell his “salon specialist” pulls off that mini-miracle (as if Trump’s orange-flaming hair were a magic trick defying the natural laws of motion and gravity). Wow! I am truly astonished. Speechless. When it comes to the president’s hairdo: I’m just as mesmerized and awestruck as the rest of us. Kudos to him (a job well done)! Alas, I digress.
Anyway, as we all know (tongue-in-cheek), our POTUS (the figurehead with the 63 million popular votes and 30 states under his belt) is not exactly (ahem ahem, let me clear my throat) the sharpest tool in the shed. To use the president’s eloquent intonation (verbatim), “Not good. Not good at all.” Even Hemingway would be proud: the economy of words is priceless (almost prehistoric–a couple notches above a sparse Neanderthal grunt). Real talk, whenever Trump is doing his “presidents gone wild” spiel, do you ever gasp to yourself (and shake your head)…damn, I bet France and Germany is watching this dumb shit (laughing their fuckin’ asses off). Guilty as charged. Do you ever watch a Trump “grassroots” (populist) rally and feel like you’ve suddenly wandered into “the land of misfit toys” (thinking to yourself…damn, where does he find these people to hold up signs and smile in the backdrop?) Hats off to the “silent majority” (you’ve really outdone yourself this time): you’ve succeeded in making the United States the laughing stock of the international community (thank you very much angry, bitter white people). “Like mama always said, stupid is as stupid does!”
Nevertheless, in order to keep the conversation fluid with the iconic powerbroker–to loosen the uncomfortable mental stagnation–I’d valiantly attempt to bait our stubborn President in the right (scientific, logistical) direction (hinting beyond the religious dogma he currently adheres to). Surely (I’d facetiously suggest), “Now that advanced mathematics has proven God is more probable than not…you still don’t think Intelligent Design is some bearded white guy hovering in the clouds above America?”
Mr. President, sir, with all due respect, please don’t tell me you believe God (code for the complex totality of the universe, known and unknown) is “some blueblood in a Brooks Brothers suit and power tie: giving out brownie points for obeying the speed limit, paying taxes and sitting up straight in church?”
For Pete’s sake, “You couldn’t possibly believe that almighty God (the electromagnetic Super Force with infinite density and power) is some white guy taking our special requests on his hotline like a smooth-talking disc jockey?”
Or maybe God is a black man after all? You know, some docile, subservient butler dressed in “all white,” hoisting up our carnal (bourgeois) demands in his celestial dumbwaiter? Apparently, the ass-grabbing cavemen of the Dark Ages didn’t get the notification (as Nietzsche’s famous declaration, “God is dead,” is disproven on a daily basis). Shame on us, but the childish interpretation of “God” as an accommodating Christian “Santa Claus” is (by no means) “dead” (not even in an information age and digital renaissance). Sadly enough (thanks mostly to Christian legalese and economic self-interests), religious oversight and its political gatekeepers (status quo) are still very much “alive” (in charge)! Good luck with that, millennials! No wonder the Orthodox Church is dying (trending downwards/plummeting)! Shame on us!
Unfortunately without our President demonstrating the unprompted ability to give an informed, clear-cut response to an “unanswerable question” (preoccupied with the political repercussions of cold-blooded evangelicals), I’d try my best to “help a brother out” (skipping the more complex propositions): kindly asking the corollary question to any feasible notion (or conceptualization) of Higher Power.
“Mr. President, if you do believe in God, then (for the love of Peter, Paul and Mary) what would you imagine is the current status of your soul?” (because I’m pretty sure I have a rough approximation).
I mean, really, I don’t know the man from a can of paint, but can even the staunchest Trump supporter say (with a straight face) that the man is even “honest” (100 lawsuits notwithstanding)? Can any “Trump lover” admit (under oath) that the man is even “trustworthy”? Or kind? Or thoughtful? Or patient? Or courageous? Heroic? Caring? Loving? Well-spoken? A deep thinker even?
Has America digressed to the proverbial benchmark (or rock bottom) where “the best we got”–our knight in shining armor–isn’t even a half-decent dude? A straight-shooter? A solid citizen? Empathetic? Even remotely intelligent?
Can we keep it real with ourselves (just for a minute); isn’t there a side of us all (whether pro or con) that (at this point)–with all the swirling controversies and incessant walking on eggshells–that would sleep much better at night (both Republicans and Democrats) if the neighborhood Little League coach or local librarian or pizza delivery guy were running the show instead of Donald Trump? Does this entire presidency (right from the get-go) not have a Wall Street bull in the China shop feel? A “No Forrest, don’t press the pretty red button!” vibe? Seriously, I’m not quite sure what is a more impressive (Gump-like) stunt: going from reality show star with no political experience to becoming world leader, or graduating from an elite private school and Ivy League college with the verbal communication skills of an underprivileged sixth grader from rural Mississippi (no offense to the deep south, but how many nerds did Donny actually pay to do his homework?).
All jokes aside, the shame really isn’t Mr. Trump’s (Mr. Hyde), but ours (Dr. Jekyll). To his credit, he never (once) pretended to be something he wasn’t (a corporate monster). Indeed, if one picks up a snake, one can’t get mad at the slithery reptile for clamping down its fangs (blame yourself). Think about it, how did scapegoating the serpent work out for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Fact: no judge convicts an automobile of vehicular homicide (only the drunk driver). No assault rifle or Glock is sentenced to life in prison (only the shooter). Substance abuse wouldn’t exist–drug dealers and pharmaceuticals would go out of business–if there were no demand (case in point, the United States is less than 5% of the world population, but we consume over 80% of the world’s opiates). Conversely, America doesn’t have a “drug problem” or “gun problem” or even a “Trump problem” (per se): our country has a “people problem.” America has an existential void (an invisible plight) in its collective soul!
After all, nobody put a gun to the silent majority’s head and forced them to press that voting lever. Nope, they did that of their own volition (hands down the greatest political blunder/brain fart in American history). And my fellow Americans did it to us–not face to face–but behind a dark curtain of anonymity (like shameless cowards). Exercising their inalienable rights in the shadowy underbelly of America…in the seedy alleyways of voting booths across the nation…like cockroaches and dirty rats in the stealth of night. Yup, my white brothers and sisters really screwed up (big time)…with their jaws clenched and lips buttoned…smirking in the faces of all the content and well-adjusted people (that can swipe an iPad)…winking at all the innocent kids in the schoolyard while secretly plotting and scheming and twisting their mustaches and stabbing us in the back. Temporarily setting America back a few decades to the dark ages of the early 80s (of Reaganism): when America was especially “great” for the uneducated white male. The “glory days” of analog television, rotary telephones, video cassettes and brown weed…when NBA ballers had to wear those “white boy” Daisy Duke gym shorts. A gilded era when an uneducated white guy–that kept his nose clean–could make thirty bucks an hour in unskilled labor in construction, manufacturing or civil service as women and minorities toiled with a frozen minimum wage of $3.35 an hour.