A number of readers, here from the United States, have recently had the same rare impulse: cutting their daily electronic intake of what one reader calls “idiotic political developments” north of the border.
This reader is a former mid-level executive for a large corporation retired a medium time ago, and his reaction is fiercely and exceptionally original.
Another moved around a bit after retirement before settling on the western edge of Chapala. His reaction also is resolute and exceptional.
These two do not know one another. Yet both, at distinct moments, have become both embarrassed and disgusted by U.S. political developments.
The one who is what ‘Trump-istas” would call a “foreigner” is more proud of being an “American” than, say, I am. (I was born and reared in the United States. That is a reality that I’ve always taken for granted. At least until I came to live in a part of Mexico where at that time there were only a relatively few gringos.)
The one who may now suddenly – and weirdly – have his Americanism questioned is the offspring of parents who entered the United States illegally. Subsequently, his resourceful parents became legal – and automatically so did he. Eventually he graduated from a California university while working a night-time job. He was the first in his family to go to high school, the first to attend college.
The home-grown gringo, also, is having a hard time ignoring most of Donald Trump’s declarations regarding critical domestic and foreign affairs. He finds Trump’s declarations so lacking in logic and basic analysis that they seem like ridiculous jokes to his family and friends living either in the United States or Mexico.
Both – and especially the Mexican-American – find Trump disgusting simply because of his undisguised racism. “He hates too many people. And most of them he obviously doesn’t know anything about.”
Both of these retirees have grabbed hold of the “conviction” that they should “learn to think more deeply,” says one. “More intellectually, seriously, logically,” says the gringo. Meaning he’s hoping to make sense of what is happening politically in the United States. Something a great many U.S. citizens, everywhere, find a riddle.
Both of these two have separately come to the conclusion that they’ve been thinking “lazily.”
“That taking Trump’s various specimens of racism the least bit seriously is embarrassing,” they both separately conclude.
The mental re-searching of these two men reminds me of the world’s most famous neurologist who, stepping out of a just-landed plane, immediately sat down and began to swiftly bring his journal up to date. “If I don’t get it down immediately, I’ll forget it.” That man, Oliver Sacks, brought the material for 16 books and hundreds articles and ”papers” up to date. That’s what keeping mental searching and selection “up-to-date” can accomplish.
All three men, as different as they’ve been, constitute a lesson for all of us. Though clearly some of us today may wish to forget some of the puzzling, intellectually crippling declarations infecting the political air these days.
But whether one wishes to forget the present American Niagara of pestilential babble or not, serious thoughtful searching can stimulate examination, inquiry, and merited criticism – the more intellectually vigorous and unhesitatingly the better.
While Sacks’ intellectual accomplishments can be daunting, his humor and his wide range can be inspiring and instructive. For instance, he wrote knowingly and instructively about music. And any neurologist\naturalist who writes a best-selling book titled “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” (1985) is guaranteed to be instructive, as well as inspiring. The becoming aspect of Sacks was his marvelous sense of humor regarding deeply serious stuff. Humor historically is a highly prized characteristic. And in today’s churning atmosphere a keen sense humor can be vastly valuable in converting bazarre political behavior into more useful thought.
Those who find similar conversion useful, may find freedom in the book and the film, “Awakenings,” by Sacks. The film by the same name stars Robin Williams as Sacks, and Robert De Niro as his patient. Both book and film issue from what has been called “the most intense medical and human involvement” that many film viewers have ever experienced. Attentive viewers live briefly with patients who had been transfixed, motionless, trance-like, for decades.
Taking a suggestion of looking at Sacks’ multilayer case studies contained in both books and films seriously is invigorating for these two retirees. These resourceful residents have turned away from Trump’s increasing cognitive decline into their own discovery of the usefulness of much more productive examinations. They will soon meet to examine the anti-Trump question: “Can the state play a significant role in the lives of its citizens without imperiling their liberties ... or imperiling their lives?”