While the big ball of Waterford crystals will be shining tonight as it drops in New York’s frigid Times Square, the crystal ball predicting what 2018 will bring remains decidedly clouded. But as 2017 comes clanking to a close, we are again reminded how societies work, in a series of open-ended recalibrations that determine how traditions that at one time may have been considered sketchy, but acceptable – you know, like slavery – or that may have once been thought of as boyishly charming – you know, sexual harassment – suddenly change to being legally actionable.
America fought a Civil War that ended slavery, if not the malice in men’s hearts. Men chasing women, on the other hand, is at one very basic level a Darwinian predicate. But in our modern society where the roles of the sexes have blurred and more categories along the male-female continuum open every day than new Starbucks locations – Forget ‘LBGT’… Canadian teachers now asked to learn ‘LGGBDTTTIQQAAP’ – the line that separates playful courtship from sanctionable behavior never fully settles. Just consider this one Biblical proscription as an example, remembering there are many who read such admonitions as timelessly applicable.
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent.” 1 Timothy 2: 11-12.
The rush of #MeToo stories that have spilled out across the media landscape like a dam-busted flood in 2017 testify to the long building pressure behind the allegations. But rather than question why it took so long for these women to come forward, understand, instead, the feelings of isolation and illogical self-recriminations (“what did I do?”) that attended those incidents when they first happened, and therefore maintained their sheltered silence over the long dark years. Not so different than how the actions of predatory Catholic priests preying on young boys came to the surface only after decades of omertà.
So from Judge Roy Moore to Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons to the Big P-Grabber himself in the White House, what we see is that even the hard lines of political dogma that have split this country into primary political palettes of reds and blues bleed away in this even more definitional construct of human sexual interaction.
Yes, sisterhood is once again on the rise. But I wonder, is it fifth-wave feminism, or just another in the endless reactions to the aberration that is the Donald Trump presidency? Because what doesn’t revolve around that tangerine sun these days?
In Trump World, there is no right and wrong, all is transactional. If you can help me, I will overlook anything. Ask Vladimir, and Georgia, Ukraine, and NATO be damned. So forget the politics of North Korea, or the tightening noose of Russian collusion, this current societal tumult is yet another sign of the impact an outlier like DTrump can have when his sagging weight is positioned as the lever atop such a determinative fulcrum as POTUS.
Some say they are surprised by how rancorous things have become through his first year in office. Surprised? Isn’t this generally what usually happens when you start a rookie?
America voted for Donald Trump not after reading detailed scouting reports, or watching him play in the Governor’s Bowl. America voted instead with its eyes closed and brain off, praying (“Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, oh, please!”) that the gods would bless them with a can-do winner instead of an Austin Powers nemesis Fat Bastard version of a president.
Yes, the country was sick and tired of Hillary Clinton and her power pantsuits, but they also chose to see Trumpsy as his NBC reality TV The Apprentice persona, the ballsy anti-establishment straight talker, the billionaire business mogul with the organizational chops to run the government in lean, business-like way.
If he can construct so many golden towers and verdant golf courses around the world, went their thinking, each requiring a myriad of difficult contingencies to overcome, then that’s the kind of “real world” leadership we need to “Make America Great Again”, to borrow a phrase.
But Reality TV ratings, simplistic notions, and a massive self-regard do not a presidential resume make, nor are those textbook qualifications for the business of governing.
The problem, my friends, lies in Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which applies equally to world politics as to physics. It states that for every action there is an opposites no equal reaction. Therefore, for every historic leader like Nelson Mandela you eventually get yourself a Donald Trump bubbling up from the mire. And instead of a unifying Truth & Reconciliation Committee that set the tone for a peaceful transfer of power from the white minority to black majority in South Africa after generations of apartheid, you get vitriolic bombast and uninformed governmental malfeasance that fuels resentment and defines opposition, while further polarizing a nation self-described as United. So this is no crap shoot, and we are not the house with odds heavy in our favor.
No reason to panic quite yet, given that the system was built to be self-corrective. What it is time for, however, is greater awareness. This is when real leaders take form, because it is a time of crisis. Anybody can lead through placid waters. It’s the rough seas that require true seamanship, when decisions may be hard and course corrections critical.
But this is where allegiance to the country is forged rather than allegiance to a Dear Leader. Because that’s the difference between what we came from, a kingdom, what we oppose, a dictatorship or oligarchy, and what we mutually pledged to become, a democracy.
So here is wishing and hoping that 2018 proves to be a healthy and happy new year. We may need one more than we know.