With Fresh Eyes

Values Diminished

Perhaps it’s my Midwest upbringing. I was brought up to be respectful of others. In any conversation, there may be a marked difference of opinion on an issue. Yet, one who shares a sincerely held opinion should not be ridiculed or shamed by those who disagree. I was also mentored to question authority when appropriate, but not through personal or slanderous attacks. The President held a rally in Grand Rapids on March 28, and this is what he said, referring to Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), in an ongoing dispute over the Mueller report: Little pencil neck Adam Schiff ... He’s got the thinnest neck I’ve ever seen. And the crowd cheered its approval.

Perhaps it’s my Swedish roots. I was brought up to be humble, show humility. There is no need to draw undue attention to yourself; instead, your actions and deeds will speak for you. And it is the outcome of these actions and deeds that is important, not yourself. Trump held a rally in Grand Rapids, and this is what he said, mocking his opponents, the so-called “elitists”: I have a better education than them. I am smarter than them. I went to the best schools, they didn’t. Much more beautiful house. Much more beautiful apartment. Much more beautiful everything. And I’m President, they’re not. And the crowd was impressed.

Perhaps it’s the mentors I’ve had in my life. One of their basic tenets that has inspired me is to be well versed on a subject before touting its virtues, or faults. Basically, that requires doing your homework, completing the necessary research, being confident in your findings. Trump held a rally in Grand Rapids, and this is what he said on the topic of wind-powered energy: I know a lot about wind. If it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night. And the crowd howled.

For the record, wind energy can be stored in various ways, including in batteries, to be used later when needed. Ask any expert.

Perhaps it’s the sermons from my childhood, listening from the pews on the virtues of honesty and sincerity, the congregation nodding its approval (although the mistruths and occasional bigoted comments of the adults overheard during the social hour following the service were contradictory to the message heard earlier, which I found perplexing). An honest and sincere approach to life was the moral and righteous path, I was told. Trump held a rally in Grand Rapids, and this is what he said, after first proposing cuts in Great Lakes funding, then reversing his stance, an opportunity to appease his Michigan crowd: I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They’re beautiful. They’re big. Very deep. Record deepness. The crowd cheered.

I recall my first experience with braggarts and bullies – their boastful yet shallow claims, their taunts. They were there among the student body in the locker room and gymnasium of my junior high school years. The non-jock crowd, of which I was part, was the principal target of their toxic tongues. The gym teacher, at the least, would overlook the ridicule, complicit in his non-action. He would often go beyond this, however, allying himself with the student jocks with his own snide remarks, thus encouraging and emboldening his favored students.

That behavior, witnessed so many years ago, now repeats itself, on display at Trump’s rallies. His crowds have returned to their 8th grade locker room, and Donald J. Trump is the gym instructor.

Contact Rich at richmskgn@gmail.com@gmail.com