Yesterday I declared I wouldn’t be commenting on the election. However, I just came across a piece by Adam Gopnik, published four days ago by The New Yorker Digital News Desk, called “Talking to Kids About Trump’s Victory.” Gopnik’s last paragraph strikes me as so exactly right — not only about Trump arriving after eight promising years of Obama but also about life in general, especially as I have been experiencing it recently — that I can’t resist quoting it.

The lesson of history—one of them, anyway—is that there is no one-way arrow in it, that tragedy lurks around every corner, that the iceberg is there even as the mighty Titanic sails out, unsinkable. [italics mine] Having a tragic view of life is compatible with having a positive view of our worldly duties. This is a big and abstract thought to share with children, of course, and perhaps, like so many like it, it is teachable only as a pained—at this moment, acutely pained—daily practice.

Is a quote a comment?  Probably.  Is life really tragic?  If you live long enough, it does seem so.  Must we nevertheless keep a positive outlook on our familiar duties and pleasures, and take as much comfort as we can from them? What other choice is there?

35 thoughts on “TRUMP AND LIFE

  1. Rita

    It almost seems corny to say that tragedy is part of life, but it is nevertheless true–sometimes what tragedy does is to wake us up to reviewing our paths, and think about where
    we can try to go…Trump’s election is a good example–people are angry, shocked and scared–but now some are
    regrouping and thinking about what to do about it–somewhere in that, are answers……….

    Liked by 2 people

    • The problem is that only some people (like us) are angry, shocked and scared. The others are delighted, at least for now. Hopefully, Trump and company will shoot themselves in the feet sooner rather than later. Then the pendulum will swing the other way again, for a while. Unfortunately, much perhaps irreversible damage will have been done in the meantime.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is what I have been saying to my friends who’re crestfallen by the news from the US. History teaches us that the pendulum always swings back and forth. And if what happened here is something of a revolution, we should take comfort in the fact that there wasn’t bloodshed. That is the great advantage of a democratic system (even in a republic).

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree wholeheartedly with you that the pendulum swings. However, one of my big concerns with the outcome of this election came when I thought to myself, “well, we survived the Bush years.” Unfortunately during that survival period we started a war with no justification, tortured our fellow man, destroyed the housing market (and with it the lives of thousands of people) and brought us close to a 30’s style depression. The only thing that got us out of those thing were the policies of Obama which were fought tooth and nail by the folks who now have all the power.

      So I’m having a tough time with this swing of the pendulum.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The tragedy of life is death, and I can understand why Gopnik’s column might touch a nerve for you but, personally, this is not how I would explain the lesson of this election to children. “Tragedy lurks at every corner”— histrionic! Rather, I would emphasize how easy it is for people to be conned, that Trump was a master con(fidence) artist, and that we should be critical and skeptical of anyone who makes outsized, outlandish, unsupported promises. I would also stress the importance of voting, of making a choice, even if neither Dem or Rep is your dream candidate. Many Dems and didn’t vote because they disliked or were lukewarm about Hillary. So the bigger evil got in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • However critical and skeptical “we” (and our children) may be, the iceberg on which the Titanic foundered is all the others who are not “we.” Unfortunately, there will always be all the others, at some point or other. Nonetheless, intelligent people may disagree about almost everything, so your comments are always welcome, Martha.


      • Hold onto your seats, everybody. It’s going to be a rocky ride.
        Just imagine the re-coil of the voters if Trump follows up on his predilection to grab the genitalia of females. World leaders would be aghast at that sort of behaviour.
        Angela Merkel would be advised to stay well away from within the reach of Trump.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Kate Schubart

    At my church today, our young minister, instead of giving a sermon, took a step which he announced with trepidation, “I am asking you (our congregation) to say what you would like to after this election that has shocked so many of us.” One by one people of all ages and conditions had something to say, some hopeful, some more anxious about the future. The youngest, about 13, wanted us to know how engaged she and her friends were both before the election and now. People spoke of rededicating themselves to good work, to being fair to their fellow Americans, to not losing hope, to resolutely facing change and, which is my view, the turbulence that always attends it, especially when, as now, it is overdue. One woman spoke of recalling the ’60s and the women’s movement as well as the civil rights movement, saying that she felt it likely that we are entering a new age of the kind of activism we saw then. One of our young husbands and fathers, in his 40s, said he was anxious but trusted in the Constitution, something he has carried with him since her first studied it in school. The range of response was, as you see, wide. As our minister had intended, this confident, open sharing of thoughts and feelings of people of all ages and conditions–and we do have a range–was healing in and of itself.
    Yes, the pendulum swings. That is why we have to cultivate the capacity to mourn when the good is pushed aside but to know that the only ‘answer’ is to take hold in whatever way we can and help it swing back in the good direction.
    Garrison Keillor’s chosen poem this Election Day was W. E. Henley’s Invictus. For those who don’t know it, it is worth reading, as Victorian as it may seem to some. Keillor surely chose it because of the spirit of individual responsibility AND power in the closing lines;
    I am the master of my fate.
    I am the captain of my soul.

    What keeps us going that Gopnik might have spoken of as an antidote to the inevitable tragedy in life? “Life is full not only of tragedy but of the opportunity to do good, to love thy neighbor as thyself, to recognize the gifts we are given every day.”


    • Although Gopnik is not, as far as I know, a churchgoer, I believe everything you have set down, at considerable length, about what happened in your church this morning is not, as you would have it, at odds with his piece — but is succinctly contained in his words “having a positive view of our worldly duties,” that is, in individual responsibility for doing what we have to do, as we see it. Thank you nonetheless for your contribution to the discourse here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What is “voluntary” voting? All voting in the United States is voluntary; it’s not required. Only 55% of eligible voters did vote last week. That may have been part of the problem.

      By the way, we vote again in two years, not four. The 2018 election will not be for president but it will be for members of the House and for 1/3 of the members of the Senate. Perhaps that will begin to turn the tide. However, much damage can be done in two years, so there’s not much to take heart about at the moment.


      • There was a time when the right for everybody to vote was fiercely fought. That’s why I don’t understand a system where those who are bothered to vote or are pursuing an agenda do so and those who can’t be bothered have to be coaxed into it. Those who don’t like the results need to consider that voter turnout in the US fell to 58 percent and campaign for a better system. I’m very much afraid that where I live, we are heading that way.
        I watch the riots of the disaffected in the US, and wonder how many of those people voted. Stressing over it is one thing, I can relate to that, but there’s no justifying violence, not in a democracy. I don’t like our hopeless prime minister. I don’t care for the alternative. But I would rather live in a democracy, imperfect though it is, than a dictatorship.


  5. Thank you for this. As a 34 year old man who wanted to vote for Bernie then wanted to vote for Jill Stein before panic voting for Hillary in fear of Trump at the last minute, this election has caused me to further question life and what impact politics play in impacting it. My answer has been to start writing to try and find some solace, start questioning others and broadening my view and then as Barbara Bush told us in 1990 “Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house”, I am trying to concentrate on being the best father and husband I can be, as I done before, but this reniforces my conviction. I have some articles related to this on my blog, I would love for you to follow me back! God bless and thank you for this excellent piece of writing. Writing is a very vulnerable act and I think it is going to take the vulnerability and humility of listening, reading, writing and experiencing to move forward in this society.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And thank you, Wrenboy. (I always did have a soft spot for the Irish.) Yes, writing is a solace and so is tending one’s own garden (read, family) — as Candide would have put it. However, I fear the next two years, at least, will be a time of moving back and not forward. So get ready also to fight with money and time, if you have either of those, by supporting and volunteering for those organizations that will push back hard against Trump efforts to reverse the societal accomplishments of the last eighty years.

      Liked by 1 person

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