Wednesday, December 5, 2018


That word, Thou, traveled a long way in my head from another four-letter word with three of the same letters; namely, Thug. But enough about Trump.

Martin Buber’s 1923 book, I and Thou, sums up what has vanished during these times that try men’s souls. The I / thou relationship elaborated by Buber describes a meeting of intimacy of subject with subject. No one is objectified. That word, Thou, takes on a sacred meaning not necessarily in a theological sense, at least in my mind, but in reference to what is in the process of fully tending to the other, the soulfulness of human beings. The Other could be someone close or even a brief encounter with a stranger. It could even be a work of art, a tree, flower or table etc … which we relate to in the full presence of our being.

This, in contrast to what happens when a thug lives on flattery and fealty. When he distances, with insults and ridicule, any who do not bend to his will. 

Listening to the eulogies bestowed on George H.W. with Donald, the elephant in the room squirming, bring to mind those virtues which are not in our would-be-monarch's vocabulary nor in his consciousness.

Even if Bush has been a bit mythologized having had his role as CIA director, in their nefarious interventions, erased along with his authorized dirty tricks campaign concocted by Lee Atwater against both George Dukakis and Gary Hart….he nevertheless is eulogized at a time when such virtues beg to be restored. Whether he warrants the nobility of a later day Founding Father, as John Meacham bestowed upon him, is irrelevant. We need to be reminded of our values even as aspirations in a democracy.  

Trump was seated in the front row alongside people he had branded as illegitimate, not a man, spoiled child, sad sack and lock-her-up. I can think of no person farther from I / Thou engagement than our current executive.

It is striking how the virtues ascribed to our 41st president at the Washington Cathedral seemingly have no place in the discourse down the block in the halls of Congress or White House. Respect for personhood would be a good place to begin. What better way to remember George H.W. Bush? In his dying, he helped to bind the wounds of a nation. And at the same time take a look at the shameful acts of the C.I.A. during his brief reign, before and after. In addition there was Clarence Thomas...but don't get me started.

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