I read the news today. Oh man. They still write about former President Trump.
This surprised me. It’s Trump for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is an asset for all seasons. This unlikely character has commanded an incredible slice of the journalistic pie since 2015 and is already taking more than his fair share.
Obama is old news. Bushes are old news. Jimmy Carter is old news. But Trump, ah Trump, this piece of Americana is as fresh as a daisy! What journalists call an “evergreen” story. Trump seems to be for all time.
And I have this thought: for his most passionate supporters, Trump is not a person, but the true embodiment of America – like Hitler, for millions of people, was the embodiment of Germany, or Churchill for England. Either way, there is substantial truth to this characterization.
But, for Trump and Hitler, these figures could be said to disproportionately embody each country’s shadow (if you’re Team Jung) or each country’s unchecked Id (if you’re Team Freud).
I have such thoughts. I’ve been a deep thinker since I was 3 years old. Really, I remember. My thoughts all my life have been a runaway train. I am a crazy train. And I’m like America: we’re both runaway freight trains and, oh my, all that freight is a heavy burden. Is it possible to direct our locomotives, as individuals or as a country? Or is the driving force something greater than any of us and are we all mere caboose unable to decouple our destinies from our identities. Are we all locomotives?
There is no escape from the past. I sit in it. I am a passenger on the train of my life, fascinated to see him pass through the windows of the caboose. Glad, too often, to let the locomotive of my story drive my story.
And yet, once I realize this is the case, hope arises to amaze. It is, as Obama said, a rather bold thing. But there it is. If I can let go of the past, really let it go, not just learn from it but escape from it, if I can detach myself from the locomotive of my identity, see my shadow for what it is and splash it with sunlight of my new vision, I can arrive at unexpected destinations. I can rearrange the track. I can learn that I am not my identity after all.
Can America learn that we are not Trump after all? I boldly hope so. Whether we are ambivalent supporters of his policies, hypnotized followers or horrified witnesses who cannot look away. It’s time to detach ourselves from the loco locomotive.