When historians look back at our era, I’m sure they will refer to it as the Age of Narcissism. One does not have to look too far to be reminded of the pathological insolence that permeates our socio-ecosystem. To wrap your head around the pervasive sense of grandiosity and machismo that is in the air is almost an impossible task. I mean how do you make sense of elders who act like infants? How do you explain to someone how adults lashing out with tantrums has been normalized? Yet this is the time we live in, an age where we are led by our ego and follow rulers who are guided by their id.
Perhaps this a natural byproduct of an empire in her last throes. When super powers get too big and too infused with hubris, they tend to get drunk of power which naturally leads to gluttony and selfishness. The Roman empire crashed and burned into the dustbin of the history books because a succession of malevolent leaders–who lacked courage and wisdom–took the helm. Leaders like Nero, Caligula and Commodus, to name a few, were so nefarious that they inculcated into the public a spirit of self-indulgence and avarice. Kleptocracy became a cancer that slowly ate away at Pax-Romana until the empire fell apart and perished.
This theme of greed, corruption and hubris is common in the narrative of human history. If you look back at every empire that rose and then vanished, arrogance and malfeasance has always been at the root of their demise. Alas, America is following in this same path as we have come to accept nepotism, bribery and rapacity from the leaders we elect as par for the course. Instead of taking to pitchforks, we take to Twitter and express rage only to get back to our self-indulgence a few seconds later. The same way Roman emperors from the past projected and transferred their iniquities into the public, we too are being infected by the toxic slime of the White House and the US Capitol. As evidenced by stories of Senators, Congressmen and the first orange president’s penchants to sexually harass and curry sexual favors from anyone who can breath and has two lungs–our nation’s capital should be renamed to District of Caligula. This article is titled “Pathology of the United States” as a wordplay on POTUS, which is an acronym for President of the United States. I initially wanted to write a scathing missive about the buffoon at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the new lows he keeps sinking to on a daily basis. Yet, upon reflection, I realized that fixating on Donald Trump and overlooking our hand in this zeitgeist would be intellectual laziness. Maistre once said that a people get the government they deserve; the more I observe society, the more I realize that Trump is actually a reflection of what we have become as a people. Trump is is our social mirror.
There was a time not long ago where age conferred wisdom and elders guided the youth with patience and forbearance. This age has seemingly waved goodbye; we are now in a bizarro world where adults are engaging in some of the most juvenile antics. A lot of this is a byproduct of technology; it is easy to bash someone and call people “asshats” or “trolls” and lead with pejoratives. One would think that “fuck you” has become the new hello. With each successive year and passing generation, civility gets replaced by aggression as we are told that the only way to fight for justice is “to get in their face”. Neighbor against neighbor, brothers against sisters; the very spirit of society has been poisoned with vengeance and separable grievances.
It is easier to overlook our hand in this continued coarsening of discourse and instead gaze at the clown in the White House. This is of course what the moneyed gentry who engineered the rise of Trump banked on; by foisting a man with maturity of an embryo and the brashness of Josip Tito upon us, they knew that the public would be more focused on the antics of Donald than the policies that bleed our nation and the world. It worked brilliantly as both his Kool-Aid drinking Trump loyalists and his irrational haters are driven into a collective derangement. The bankrupt corporate media jumps on as either side of the partisan ideologues who populate the mainstream press keep agitating their base in order to drive up their ratings and enhance societal acrimony.Politicians get their bribe money from plutocrats, pundits get paid by corporations, and billionaires add more zeros as our government transfers wealth from us to the oligarchy–all sides win except for the commoners. We would notice these things if we were not too busy slinging mud and mauling each other with curse words and pejoratives. Maybe it is time to stop focusing on the “elites”, stop being a cult of personalities and focus on ourselves–we are the pathology I’m write of. When we let kindness and good will be our guiding light, maybe we will be led out of the darkness. Change, both good and bad, is contagious. Each insult begets more hate; each act of love induces care. #PathologyOTUS
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Check out this speech by Bobby Kennedy, a man who was gunned down not by one man but by a system of hatred that silences true change agents and those who speak up for justice.
This is a Ghion Cast that is dedicated to our togetherness. May we overcome the divides and come together as ONE::
If you are in the Washington DC area, make sure to come out on Saturday, December 16th, to Sidamo Coffee and Tea as I host a book discussion and a community conversation. Click HERE or on the picture below to RSVP.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.