Shiny Object Syndrome a/k/a Fiddling While the World Burns

Egad! The bright and shiny objects of the week are, once again, any news relating to Donald Trump.

Trump
Our omnipresent “Bright and Shiny Object”

In the so-called “Age of Distraction,” Trump IS the distraction. From wall-to-wall coverage of the impeachment hearings to breathless headlines about “today’s” tweets to tut-tutting over the latest executive order (He is not anti-Semitic!), Americans glut themselves on all things Trump.

This week is only the latest example.

There is the omnipresent coverage of the impeachment hearings (The Democrats are for! The Republicans against!).

Thursday, we could feast on reactions to his comments about Greta Thunberg being named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” (Trump bullies sixteen-year-old!).

Daily, we could peruse news flashes about his latest abominations (Trump moves to cut disability benefits! Trump cuts food stamps! Trump calls FBI “scum!”).

Unfortunately, almost hidden by this Trumpian avalanche is the most important event of our lifetime, a mere tip of its iceberg visible above the orange-hued snow in which it lays buried.

That iceberg is the climate crisis.

While all government and much of our population chains itself to the latest and greatest, brightest and shiniest Trump revelations of the day, that crisis worsens. . . and worsens.

And nothing gets done.

Sea levels slowly increase, islands get swamped, populations become displaced, animal species grow extinct and our own regional climates warm up, dry up and become less predictable and more volatile.

Climate change is not going to happen. It has happened and continues to happen. . . for the worse.

methane
The EPA is seeking to relieve restrictions on methane emissions like these. Methane is one of the worst producers of carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, our government does nothing except exacerbate it.

And our citizens remain hypnotized to the point of inaction by the orange shiny things that swing daily across their eyes.

One of the apocryphal stories of history is that of Rome going up in flames while Emperor Nero fiddled.

Rome did burn, but it is unlikely that Nero ever fiddled for the simple reason that there were no fiddles in his day.

However, the story makes the important point that bad things can happen when people pay them no heed and, instead, “fiddle” away their time.

Collectively, that is what we are doing—fiddling while Rome burns.

Democratic office holders, or most of them, would like to act, but we hear precious little from the major presidential candidates who battle instead over Medicare-for-all and the other candidates’ business ties.

For their part, Republican office holders remain in the grossest form of denialism while greedily accepting money from fossil fuel interests.

Even worse, most of the public, no matter whether they identify with a party or are steadfastly independent, pay little but lip service to the issue.

However, if you like your seashores, mountains, existing species and more predictable, calmer weather, you might turn from the shiny orange things that try to dominate your attention and do something to address this crisis. Really, virtually anything.

Below are a number of sources that give different vantage points as to what your options for action may be. They range from running for office yourself to buying more fuel-efficient vehicles to using your washers and dryers more effectively.

The point is to do something because the world does depend, in part, on you.

BBC article 102-what-can-i-do-about-climate-change

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/09/22/climate-change-solutions

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/climate-change-what-you-can-do-campaigning-installing-insulation-solar-panels

Trump in Flight

A chain reaction was set off earlier today when CNN reported that Tuesday’s White House lockdown was due to the sighting of a “slow-moving blob” crossing the sky.

Learning of the report, Fox News broke into regular programming to announce that Donald Trump apparently had gained the ability to fly.

Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network immediately followed with a news release proclaiming that God had given this ability to Trump in thanks for “Making America Great Again.”

Hard on the heels of that release, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffrees and Paula White said in a joint statement that the flight proved again that Trump was “The Chosen One.”

They also noted that Barack Obama had flown only with the assistance of airplane.

Trump himself added a final note by tweeting that while it was true God had given him the gift in thanks, it was also true that He had given it in worship.

The tweet also noted that “every one of the heavenly host” agreed that Trump was the greatest leader of all time.

Meanwhile, speaking off the record, national security officials said that the mysterious “blob” was likely a large flock of birds or a drone.

Eric and Franklin in Never Never Land

It is hard to know whether to be shocked, amazed or mournful about the relationship of many white, conservative evangelical leaders with Donald Trump.

The latest example can be seen and heard in a recent interview of Eric Metaxes with Franklin Graham, Jr.

While Metaxes is a gifted author and Graham has begun and continued important service ministries, both seem to share a blind spot toward Trump that has led them into a strange world populated entirely by those few who not only admire Trump but also worship him.

The Metaxes-Graham conversation began somewhat normally until Metaxes gave the first indication of his citizenship in an alternate world by observing the “bizarre” phenomenon of people “who exist” to “undermine” the president.

Keep in mind that in past years in this world, many people would actively oppose a president and work against his (never her) policy initiatives. Those people were called “opponents.” Apparently, in the eyes of Metaxes and Graham such people have become sinister and, as we shall see, evil.

For his part, Graham agreed with Metaxes on the “bizarre” behavior and even raised the ante by saying that such people are “almost demonic.”

It got worse.

Metaxes topped Graham by saying, “Almost [demonic]? I would say it is demonic.”

He added that they both know that this is a “spiritual battle.”

Wow! Who knew but them! Trump is fighting with the heavenly forces in the eternal, cosmic battle with. . . gulp. . . “demons” like me.

It continued to worsen.

Graham argued that it is easy for anyone, Republican or Democrat, to see how good Trump is as president.

Yes. He said this. Worried about those child separations? How about his acting against United States policy interests for personal favors? Appalled by the lies and bullying? Franklin says you shouldn’t be.

He went on to add that the economy is “screaming forward.”

Metaxes pulled them both deep into Never Never Land by adding that “everyone knows” that the economy was “dead in the water three years ago.”

Well, no. That is wrong.

Instead, even if Eric cannot face the fact, we can all celebrate that the economy continues to perform well under Trump, just as it did under Obama.

After taking office in January 2009 with the economy in a nosedive, Obama went on to enjoy the final 75 months of his administration with an economy that grew and added jobs each month. In the end, over 11 million jobs were added in that time period.

Meanwhile, Trump’s administration has added 6 million jobs and the economy continues to grow.

Both are good news for Republican and Democrats, even if not for Graham or Metaxes.

We can hope they both return to Earth soon and come to understand that political differences in the United States are not necessarily “demonic” but part of the democratic process and that presidents are men (and, soon, women) but are not gods much less God.