This is not, specifically, an attack on Donald Trump, because the actual proof that we all know is true is still forthcoming. We can listen to Trump’s shrill and increasingly laughable cries that it is all a ‘witch hunt,’ and that there has been ‘no collusion,’ but it has come so far and so long that these words have no meaning coming from him any longer. He is one of two things, with all this information coming out about him, his election, his presidency, his administration and his questionable business practices. He is either the stupidest or the most corrupt person ever to hold the office of President of the United States.
But, as I said, a discussion like this needs a little more time to develop, regardless of the sealed documents the stand-in attorney general will insist upon ignoring, as Trump disgracefully steps out of office with a nasty shout of “I did everything I set out to do that the Democrats didn’t collude to block (and we know he will use a word like that). I did more than any president in American history over the (fill in the blanks of however many years he disgraced the nation). The future will prove this. I was the greatest President ever, and the real traitors are these fuckers who tried to get me to impeach. I wish President Pence (or, if it is during the second term, should he win one, whomever is the new vice president) the best, but I don’t know if America will ever recover from what they did to a true patriot like me!” This is the sort of obnoxious bluster of any criminal politician being run out of town.
I don’t wish to talk about history, this time, either. We can always try to compare our time right now to any of the other ages criminal leaders and soulless corruption of any nation the whole world over, and see how the current crisis we are suffering compares to other collapsing civilizations from our collective past, but what good will this do? We repeat the same mistakes and destroy our empires from within for the same reason and have been doing this for thousands of years. And so I want to give Donald Trump a breather because he is so damn easy to condemn. We should go back and talk about Nero, or Warren G. Harding (let’s let Nixon lie in peace too, because he has already been overwritten about and constantly mentioned as the Trump presidency collapses). We can always talk about the crimes of the past, and how they have helped get us to where we are today, cynical, distrustful and broken. But sometimes it is best to describe the present.
Here is a clip worth watching. It is horrifyingly graphic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg-H5X92rSA&bpctr=1544445541
That is what happens when the people have had enough in nation’s supposedly more brutal than our own (are they really? As of December 3, 2018 there have been 13,419 gun deaths in America alone. 25,937 gun injuries. In the world the total number is more than 100,000. The only nation with a higher per-capita death rate with guns is Brazil, which is of course mostly run by gangsters and cartels in desperately poor neighborhoods) The video, by the way, is of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, after being kicked to death in the streets by an outraged public, having his corpse dragged until his body literally starts coming apart. This is the seething resentment and hatred criminal tyrants face should they fall from grace or lose power. It is something every dictatorial leader should pay attention to and beware.
It does not mean, necessarily, that a nation will be in a better place after toppling a dictator. Sometimes, if that is all the people have ever known in their lifetimes, or even in their history, what can they possibly do with such an alien idea as freedom?
But I did not want to talk about Trump, or even national or international politics here. I am talking about leaders, and touring through the past, with crooked popes and corrupt prime ministers and madmen screaming new religions from their pulpit and executing everyone who disagrees is a rant for another time. That is the world of terror that has surrounded us. That is what has made our leaders, any longer, into frightened cripples, incapable of seeing beyond their own visions of doom.
Let’s take an example far more close to home than something dark and forbidding like government, where we can only have opinions and no actual truth. When everybody is lying we are left to simply pick a side. But I want to consider schools. A superintendent. The Principal. Teachers. Class clowns.
The principal of, let us say, a middle school, has a complicated job. This person must deal with children beginning puberty, the emotional highs and lows and the worst example of that old dictum ‘kids can be cruel.’ This is the place where the worst bullying happens, where awkward or even gentle children are targeted by amphetamine hopped up kids, drugged to suppress their Attention Deficit Disorder (something that used to be called adolescence). The drugs make them frantic addicts, and everyone tells them that they need them. The kids are often angry about this and, to make themselves feel better, they start picking on the kids that seem the most likely to react.
With sensitive children you can always find something to criticize. Perhaps their hair is greasy, or they are covered with pimples, or that first mustache they are trying to grow looks like a caterpillar died and is rotting on their upper lip. These children often have few friends–most of them detached partners in various classes at school they do not see or talk with otherwise, and then a handful of others, usually very close. These friends are also picked on, with the occasional popular yet decent kid telling the bullies to back off.
Kids say things like this: “Kill yourself.” “Yeah, kill yourself, faggot!” “Fucking faggot!” “Die you stupid fag!” “Little cocksucker. Stupid fucking loser!” They say things like this over and over again to these kids who often have no one to turn to in their humiliation and shame. And they are too proud to tell on their assailants. They do not want to repeat what was said to them.
And whether these kids are actually homosexual or not isn’t an issue, really. If they are then they feel it even deeper down, the shame others are shoving upon them. They are in middle school. These kids are just beginning to understand themselves and getting to know who they are. Very few thirteen year olds with homosexual inclinations are comfortable coming out at such a time. They sulk. They keep it to themselves. Many of them try to suppress it. It is a long time before they can accept who they actually are, and maybe even longer before they can find acceptance.
Those who are not gay have no idea what to do. They are being judged something they are not and have no means of fighting back. They might give a frail, “But I’m not–” or a slightly bolder, “I’m no faggot you asshole!” but this is all for naught. The kids are picking on someone. They see that it upsets their target. They pile on. They pile on. Kids gather in a circle surrounding this child, chanting their insults and character attacks, gathering spectators, who are laughing and sometimes joining in. Imagine the feeling when one of those classroom buddies, a science lab partner or something, caves in to peer pressure to save themselves from a similar fate and starts screaming “Faggot faggot faggot faggot!” What hope must this child feel if everyone seems to be against them?
I was talking about leadership. How does the principal or superintendent handle such things? The tragic reality is that they tend to do very little. More concerned about the reputation of, if not the school or the district, then at least of themselves, principals are best at covering things up so they won’t get any bad press. That is their only fear: bad press. The public shaming and outrage that comes with secrets being exposed. Principals are political creatures. I believe that I said elsewhere, when reflecting on my own past running a classroom, that most principals are failed teachers with friends higher up in the school district. Most of them are panicky fools with little understanding of fair and equal laws, or how to handle special education, or conflict resolution, or even relating to the children they are responsible for during the day.
Principals are quick to hand out suspensions for minor infractions (unless too many suspensions make them look bad). The goal is to terrify the child, to threaten them with permanent records, and future jail time, and a potentially hopeless future. It really is this cruel, for both the fractured bullies who actually hate themselves, and the victims who cause the administration the most aggravation.
Principals are meant to be leaders. They have a very difficult job. But a vast majority spend all their time threatening and berating the teachers, wandering around the school, and holding their feeble fascist authority over everyone. Some of them may be kindhearted, throwing out generous scraps to their favorites, but make no mistake: School is not a Democracy. For all the social sciences and history they try to cram into the children’s head in the limited highlight real of generationally acceptable bias, these notions of freedom are never a true reality for kids in school. A principal is an ominous figure, hovering in the background. If a student actually sees them anywhere other than on stage at an assembly, or if they hear them other than on morning announcements, it means nothing but trouble. Most principals are annoyed if they have to deal with students. They are angry. They lash out. They bully the bullies and the bullied. They bully the teachers and are bullied themselves by their higher ups.
Principals do not recognize bullies unless something happens right in front of them. Hearing about an incident, even from the school counselor, is not enough. The failed leader can only think of themselves–how does this affect me and what must I do to cover my own ass? Who can I blame? What lie do I have to tell to make this not my fault? And if the bullied child finally kills themselves? We will have a day of mourning. We will have counselors to talk to–suicide prevention seminars and set aside places in the building for people to hug and cry. There is this pretend show to make it seem like the school really cares when all this does is cover up their own inability to recognize when children are in danger.
Of course there is the on-line component too. This cannot be truly attributed to the schools because they have no ability to censor outside social interaction, no matter how much they threaten the kids while they are in school. They talk about, like a corporate sensitivity trainer, how people shouldn’t post mean things on social media because the stuff sometimes goes viral and hurts people more than you kids may realize. To a nasty child with no understanding or concern for consequences, how is this not an invitation? What do the leaders of the schools actually do? They stare students down, ostracize the victims even further, and pretend that they care, when in fact they are rolling their eyes and wondering how much longer they have to pay attention to these weak-kneed little brats.
This example of a middle school principal can be translated into literally every leader of anything. Corporate bosses do not care about anything other than profits. Church leaders like to count the number of people in their congregations. And while individual priests and bishops and pastors and teachers may actually care and try to help those in such sorry states, their higher ups threaten and continue to hide the truth for their own sake.
This goes from the tree house to the white house; from the soccer field to the lawn of parliament. Every leader has been failing for a very long time. It is a selfish age, as I and many others have been saying repeatedly. This selfishness spills over from the top all the way down, making the world into a very cruel and desperate place. Everyone against everyone–every man for himself! This is what happens when society crumbles. This is no different than the fantasy of a zombie apocalypse. In fact, this explains the popularity of zombie stories today, the subterranean awareness that the true social world is dying, and all we can do is insult one another from a faceless void. And I am trying to peer through this eternal darkness to see just who it is I am speaking to, but I cannot penetrate the veil. All I can do is see the vague responses, the brief words of praise or hatred or indifference. This is what I see in this modern world where there is no such thing as moral leadership any longer.
Every man for himself. It is every man for himself. How is this any different than what is supposed to happen at the end of the world?
©2018 Lance Polin