Saturday, June 24, 2017

David Brooks - Poisoning the World

A blog with the intent of pursuing leadership questions has no choice but to acknowledge and comment on David Brooks' recent op-ed piece, "Donald Trump Poisons the World," in the New York Times. There have been many difficult leadership issues raised throughout the last year of political life in the U.S. but Brooks raises one of the most fundamental - Are Donald Trump and his advisors purpose-driven or simply woefully unprepared intellectually and ethically for the challenges of the U.S. Presidency?

The proposition that Brooks poses is that it is the world view of Trump that is at the root of the problem. H.R. McMaster and Gary Kohn wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece that Trump had gone to the Middle East with a cleareyed view of the world, on that assumed the "world is not a 'global community' but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage." This view is familiar to many and is at the core of Paul Ryan and his type's philosophical favorite, Ayn Rand, the reactionary conservative out of Russia who wrote Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and other books about Darwinian processes of survival of the fittest. I read these books as well as a 20-something, naive and self-centered enough to believe that cut-throat competition and denigration of one's enemies sounded reasonable as a way of every person becoming her/his best self. The thing of it is, I grew out of it and realized that the world isn't a playing field that is fair and that our moral striving for goodness includes being aware of, concerned about, and willing to sacrifice some of what I might want for the benefit of others. Trump, Ryan, and the people who are pushing forward in their conservative agenda appear not to have grown out of their captivating and self-centered youth and the rest of us are suffering for it.

The journey of humanity has always encountered bumps, detours, and sometimes chasms that appeared impossible to bridge. The period in which we now live is one of those times, likely not the worst of them when we think about McCarthyism, Nazism, or even the Golden Age of American industrialism. However, it's important that we pay attention and it is fortunate that there are many journalists who are warning us - pay attention and think about what is happening. We do not live in normal times and we do not have a normal President. We have a President who is willing to lie on a regular basis because of a philosophy he carries deep in his soul - he is trying to survive and his survival is directly related to making sure someone else is defeated.

The world David Brooks describes and I believe Donald Trump embraces is not the world in which I want to live. I hope this era is an awakening for many citizens around the world who can see the bottom line and are committed to work to defeat it.

No comments: