Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.
For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like — always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Psalm 73:3-12, NIV
There is a dark side to the Trump presidency that has nothing to do with Trump, at least not directly. Rather, it is the moral attitude of the audience of this farce.
Here’s a man who was born into wealth. He used the wealth of his father to lie about his own wealth, which he used to create the illusion of success when in reality everything he touched turned into failure. No less, he used that illusion to borrow money, which he used to further this illusion, which he used to borrow more money. Along the way he cheated those who worked for him, turned a blind eye to foreign money laundering, and abused any woman he wanted on the grounds he was a ‘star.’ Everything about Donald Trump is, has been, and will always be a lie. He defrauded clients, investors, banks, voters, journalists, tax payers, anyone foolish enough to listen, and resorts to threats, violence, and all manner of bully tactics to put down anyone who challenges him, all while flagrantly boasting of his ability to get away with it. By any objective measure, Donald Trump is a morally bankrupt human being.
And what does he gain for all this?
The highest office of the land.
People hand him money on the idea he’s going to teach them his ways. But his ways are quite simple: lie, cheat, and steal, and then threaten anyone who challenges you. In short, feed your greedy desires at the expense of anyone and everyone else and don’t be constrained by what is ‘right.’ Yet for the casual observer, he is richly rewarded for this behavior. This is America.
This is America, the same country that likes to motivate teachers with feely-good phrases such as if you can read this thank a teacher and teaching is the profession that creates all others. The same culture that also says put your money where your mouth is. And we can easily see the kinds of professions we value as a culture: fraudulent ones.
These days, I get about a dozen robocalls from scam numbers daily, and I have to wonder if there’s a growing attitude that in order to get ahead one has to be more like Trump insofar as hurting people doesn’t matter as long as you get rich. I see headlines about abuses of guardianship, in which the court will appoint someone to look after the elderly only to “bill” thousands upon thousands of dollars for such things as shopping for pants. And the opioid crisis continues. That doesn’t even address the rise in so-called hate crimes. That is, violence and murder against someone because the perpetrator hates the people the victim represents.
Somewhere in all this, I have to wonder if integrity still means something. I have to believe honor still has value. And if it does, what is it?
Some days, I don’t know anymore.