It seems like such a long time ago that we elected a Simpson-like cartoon character to be President of the United States of America. After the initial shock and the cacophony of the autopsy, each of us then had to decide just how we were personally going to react and find our way forward following the election shock.
A number of my friends and family have taken the path of resistance. You could even buy a bumper stick to that effect. Resistance has an honorable history in matters political. Labor unions, suffragettes, civil rights advocates and others have long resisted oppression in this country. European history is often the story of heroic resistance to the rich and powerful.
Alas, resistance to Trump is more problematic. You can vote, give money to candidates, march or write letters, but by virtue of living in the deep blue of Illinois and Oak Park, resistance seems somewhat amorphous, even pointless. Think of those little pink hats gathering dust in the corner of Oak Park closets.
One can watch and cheer Noah, Bill and Rachel, and one can read the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic and The New Yorker to be up to date on the daily Trump perfidy, but I’m not sure reinforcing your biases is an effective resistance strategy. Seems more like political cutting. Just how high must our anti-Trump consciousness be raised? I never liked catechism class. It was the same thing over and over. Just like MSNBC.
So resistance is not for me. I’m for retreat! I’m going to sell bumper stickers once I hit my $100 goal on Go Fund Me.
Retreat also enjoys a long and honorable history. Rome left England. England left India. The American Revolution and almost all the colonial wars in Africa and Asia ended in retreat. Ho Chi Minh understood that eventually the oppressors give up and go away. No surrender, just retreat.
I have multiple lines of retreat:
The first line is history. Thing are bad, then they get better. King George was followed by George Washington; Buchanan by Lincoln; Hoover by FDR ; and Nixon by Ford. If we can survive Stalin and Hitler, surely we can survive a tinpot grifter like Trump.
I retreat to philosophy. Stoicism and existentialism are particularly effective. Our current calamity is utterly insignificant in a multiverse cosmos that will last for billions of years. In the current age, agency is ascendant. We humans believe we can be anything we want to be, or do anything we want to do. The Greeks knew better. Such a foolish conceit. I can do little about global warming, the make-up of the Supreme Court, trade wars, gas prices or the plight of immigrants. I can’t even get those soccer kids out of their watery cave. It is sad, I suppose, but perversely comforting.
I retreat to nature. A walk in the park or a visit to Morton Arboretum or Lake Michigan is settling. Sit and look at a big beautiful tree framed against the deep-blue sky. Glorious nature transcends fleeting, sordid politics.
I retreat to family and friends. Having dinner with friends, playing in the sprinkler with Lily, Ava and Cole, playing cars with Teddy and dancing with Hazel while listening to Jackson Browne make these DC shenanigans seem peripheral and distant.
I refuse to let politics and media shape my world. I must escape the chains of my echo chamber. So I sound a clarion call.