I just finished my morning foray into the mad world of Donald Trump and was not even taken aback to see that he is now focusing on the mental instability of Hillary Clinton. This is just further illustration of how completely out of touch with reality he is; for, if he paid any attention to the feedback that he is getting from friend and foe he would realize that he should not touch the subject of anyone’s else’s “mental instability.”
But this is the problem with narcissism, especially when that mental illness has reached the stage of malignancy it has with him. For in that state of madness, one is impervious to feedback from the outside. One then finds himself comfortably ensconced in a delusional system and inevitably will have constructed himself a social world consisting of people who will help him maintain his lunacy as they too live in a version of the same delusional system. Theologian Paul Tillich described this as “an empty world of self-relatedness”, a pristine world comprised of people who march lock-stepped to the beat of the same demonic drummer.
I speak from experience. As noted before in this venue, I grew up in a context of delusional narcissism in which I learned that I was one of God’s “special” and “chosen people who had the truth; and, yes, others perhaps had the truth also but no one had it like we did! And I’m not free of this poison yet and will never be completely as it always tempts me to bask in the safety of my present day mind-set and dismiss any and all those see the world differently. But when the Grace of God has intervened and one has “named the demon” the demon can no longer work its tyranny in your heart with the same degree of abandonment. Yes, I still catch myself taking myself too seriously…in this venue and in the whole of my life…but then “reality” chides me and I am reminded again that I’m only a finite perspective in a world of other perspectives. I don’t have “the” Truth though I now feel that I am in the loving hands of the Truth and therefore don’t have to be so damn “right” any more.
And this is often quite uncomfortable. For in my heart’s core I still have that childhood desperation for “certainty” but am learning to live without it, learning that this is what faith is about. And, yes, this is faith in God…though that is a long story…but it also is a newly found faith in myself as I’m discovering that the certainty which used to offer comfort was specious at best and was predicated upon a denial of my human vulnerability.
Trump has a god-like power over many people in my country. His message preys on reptilian-brain fears which are readily assuaged by his promise that he is gonna “Make America Great Again.” He knows that he can say and do anything he wants to and his followers will stay with him for they are hapless before his demonic falderal. Last fall he even declared publicly that he could shoot someone dead in the streets of New York City “and my poll numbers will still go up.” The very next day his poll numbers spiked. He offers a delusional hope and when desperate people have imbibed of this nectar it is usually impossible to take it from them.
And many evangelical Christians are drinking the kool-aid with relish, disregarding the advice of one of their own spokesmen, Chuck Swindoll, who posed the question of Trump, “Where is the basic thread of human decency?” It is not there but many evangelicals, terrified by the reality of the modern world, are willing to sell their soul for the specious hope of a “strong-man” who will turn back the clock and restore our country to the “good old days.” They fail to realize that these “good old days,” that I remember well, were the days when blacks knew their place, women knew their place, gender diversity did not even exist, and those Communists occupied the place that “Muslims” occupy in our present day mindset. The “good old days” required rigid demarcation between “us” and “them” which is best illustrated by Trump’s promise today to “build that wall.” “Walls” and boundaries are necessary for life. But when they are emphasized to the neglect of openness and inclusiveness they are destructive, destructive of the world outside but also of those that are inside the “safe” confines of those boundaries. As W. H. Auden noted, “We have made for ourselves a life safer than we can bear.”