Each week I receive from 5 to 40 responses to the current column. I try and answer those raising interesting alternative perspectives, particularly if I cannot identify the authors. I do not bother with unsigned personal attacks. (Thankfully over the years I have only gotten a half dozen such assaults.)
There are two issues that come from recent responders which call for more detailed answers, and this week, instead of taking on a new subject, I want to look at them.
First, there is my continued criticism of Donald Trump — his character, his ethics and his policies. Thus far in 2018 six of these weekly columns belong to that category. The writers seek to defend Trump, believing that I am wrong in my criticism, and offering contrary opinions. But I have also received three responses from persons who agree with what I have written, but who believe that I have done nothing beyond feeding my own frustration. As one responder put it, “These people are not going to listen, let alone change, and you are just wasting your time when you should be addressing other far more important issues.”
So why should I continue to butt my head at a stone wall if I am only venting my frustrations? There are two reasons. First, I must be honest about what I feel, and I am convinced that Trump continues to disgrace himself and the nation. Second, if enough Americans continue to raise their passionate concerns, the unrelenting pressure may have an effect, first on the November elections, and then on bringing about a return to what really makes America great.
My continual pressure on what I believe important suggests what might be called “the starfish approach.” Most starfish varieties have five legs. On the lower surface there are scores of tiny organs — not suction cups — each of which can exude a tiny drop of glue. When hundreds of these devices attach themselves to some surface, such as the tightly closed shell of a clam, and remain attached, eventually the powerful muscle holding the clam’s shell closed will be overcome and the starfish will feast on the clam’s soft inner body.
While none of us has sufficient strength to produce a change in Trump or his agenda, this continual widespread pressure may already be having an effect. If enough of us keep on the pressure, eventually even the most muscular political resistance may be forced to give way. Already we are seeing growing discomfort if not signs of panic among Trump and his supporters. So I will continue to do my insignificant but vital part.
The second matter has to do with gradual changes in me. I had been unaware of these changes until three good friends brought them to my attention. If I have spent much of my life looking out, perhaps I am now beginning to focus more of my attention on looking in at what is going on below the physical in me, and in the world. Some may define this change as a spiritual journey, but that term is so cloudy I hesitate to use it. My quest certainly has to do with how I see other persons, beginning with my extended family as well as the members of our retirement community. It clearly centers on an overwhelming thirst to enrich the journey with Wendy as we walk together down that final path.
Perhaps this profound need was generated a few months ago with the death of my daughter, Carol, who joined her brother John in the great silence. Beth, our remaining child, becomes all the more important.
I cannot cite specific actions or changes that this quest has produced. Something deep inside demanded I generate the recent columns about my father and then my mother. What I found when I opened the door to my parents’ inner lives came as a shock. After all the years, why did I need to engage in this exploration? In there were columns titled, “The Immensity” and “Transitions,” that also came from somewhere deep within. Perhaps I am just beginning to come to terms with the realization that I may be experiencing what the journey is like as one make one’s way on the downward side of the mountain.
What I am sensing about this change in my inner world became a bit cleared just an hour ago with an email telling of the death of Bob Gartman, a friend I met the first day of our joint college careers in August of 1948.
There is no way I intend to artificially foster this dynamic, even if those who have long lived in this inner world encourage my continued exploration. I will simply let the experiences of the day lead me, allowing to happen whatever life offers without my either forcing or resisting it.
Fear not, the starfish in me will remain alive and well.