The Star-Herald

Lessons

I cannot express how much I worry for our country. Fortunately, I feel relatively safe, because I am far to the north of the trouble that is tearing the heartland apart and bringing pain and suffering to our places of power.

Yet even up here we have folks who have thrown in with some of the most seductive elements of a fascist movement. Some of those are good folks who are just seeking a way through the world, a way that makes sense to them.

I’ve warned for years on social media and in face-to-face conversations that when so many people placed Donald Trump in the position of The Anointed One, we had hurt ourselves as a country, that we brought on a time of widespread turmoil and national retreat. Usually not a good situation. 

In some ways the last five years have been like learning a lesson. So I’d like to speak to my community about the message the Universe is teaching us through this experience. 

During some elections, a person seeks a savior through their vote, someone to accomplish a great goal. During other elections, that same person may just be looking for someone with enough good sense that they won’t fly the plane of our country into the side of a mountain. In the 2016 election, for many people, there was a sense that God was working a divine purpose through Trump and teaching our nation a lesson. Many of them thought they knew what the lesson was going to be – a ban on abortion, the return of Jesus, unending wealth, the ascension of white people to supremacy, the end of taxation, or a new Christian theocracy for example. But thinking any of us already knew the lesson was just our own hubris. 

God, the universe, the multiverse, Ultimate Reality, or whatever you want to call Providence has worked divine purpose through Trump and has most certainly taught us several lessons. 

Now we are nearing the end of the class, and we only have a little more time before we need to move to the next lesson. History tells us that environmental disaster, war, economic collapse, or more disease is coming. It always does, sometimes all at once. 

In tough classes, we’ve seen that knowledge comes hard to some students. We’ve all been one of those students at one time or another, and there is no shame unless we fail to learn the lesson. In this case, the hard lesson seems to be about recognizing things. We need to be better at recognizing lies and liars. We need to recognize that how we treat each other affects the way others treat us, recognize that religions should spread hope and grace rather than fear and control, and recognize that caring for the world and our neighbors is more fruitful than irresponsibility and exploitation. 

Trump won the 2016 election, and then the Universe sent us a plague. Even those with weak faith should recognize such an obvious sign. Most of us now realize that the deal our nation made with this devil was never going to end well.

So this is a message to the remaining Trump supporters who still believe the lies he is telling them. You need to pay attention or you’ll walk away from class having learned nothing. 

Andrew Birden is a recipient of two Maine Press Association Freedom of Information Awards and a Newspapers in Education Award. He writes and teaches from his home in Fort Kent, Maine. Find more of his work at MachoChef.com.

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