I hope that you all had a joyous holiday season and found time for renewal of body and spirit. We attended Mass on Christmas morning at our local parish and I found it to be an oasis of calm in an otherwise stressful world. The sense of community spirit and an appreciation that there are forces larger than all of us was the right formula for me on Christmas morning. I experience a sense of inner peace whenever I sing along with the entire congregation and we cover the old favorites such as Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World.
With that in mind, I write the following literally, without ulterior motives, a sense of superiority or criticism thinly veiled. I pity Donald J. Trump. I do not pity him in any sense other than its intended meaning. I feel sorry for him as a person. His seems to be a life unfulfilled without spiritual support.
As I pondered the spirituality of Christmas — or anyone’s personal understanding of spirituality in your own context — coupled with the sense of community I realized that Mr. Trump enjoys none of that. On Christmas Eve he filled the air waves with Tweets that ranged from plaintive, to mean, to just plain wrong. Included in those Tweets was this phrase, “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House.” To be sure, it was probably intended as a political slam to the Democrats in Congress who left town after Mr. Trump reneged on a deal brokered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). However, I think that there was more to it than just that. I think he did feel lonely, alone, and bored. Rather than reveling in the spirit of the day and the time of the season, and perhaps taking stock of his life, family and place in the world as spiritual folks are wont to do from time to time, instead he blasts out mean and insulting Tweets. The poor man — literally in my view — has no spiritual light to guide him.
In case there was any doubt that Mr. Trump had little understanding of the moment, on Christmas morning he held a “press availability” in the Oval Office where he continued to disparage just about anyone he could think of that, in his view, was standing in his way. He finished by saying, “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.” (You can’t make these things up.)
I pity him because it must be difficult to go through life without any joy. Without any sense of wonder. Without any idea that other people care about each other for who they are rather than for what they can do for you. There may be other people out there with the same life view, but since Mr. Trump is constantly in the bright lights of the cameras it is easy to read him.
His whole life seems to be a zero sum game. He must believe that whenever someone else gets what they want, it is at his loss. Therefore, one must be ruthless, never show compassion, and take what you want before others take it from you. It is almost too easy to make comparisons to literary and movie characters that embody this same spirit, but it was suggested to me that his world view seems to be epitomized by Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life.
Obviously I have no idea what Mr. Trump thinks or if he is a spiritual person. From observation I would say he is not. And that is sad. For him. Watching him at the service for President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Trump sang none of the hymns, read along with none of the prayers, and generally looked extremely uncomfortable in the setting of the National Cathedral. One does not have to sing church hymns or read standardized prayers to be spiritual, but I would be surprised if Mr. Trump gives glory to God or any other force of nature.
It must be sincerely sad for an individual to go through life with no sense of joy, no compassion, no empathy for the condition of others and no sense of the things that are bigger than all of us. To be constantly on the look out for someone trying to screw you over, trying to screw them over first, to not just “win” but to have to humiliate anyone that dares to stand in your way and on, and on, with the now well-known temperament of Mr. Trump, makes for a very sad person. Not sad by my judgement, but sad in that he must at heart be an individual that sees little to no good in others. And I would guess, he therefore lacks the self-confidence and inner fortitude that comes from knowing that you are at peace with yourself.
That is why I say I pity a man who cannot find joy in the Christmas spirit or find happiness in the small things in life that help to nourish our joy, celebrate the human spirit, and provide a sense of inner peace.