This is the vulnerability reveal, the real vulnerability reveal, sans fireworks and sans immediate physical damage, at least as far as I can see. The vulnerability is that human beings will be voting for either Trump or Biden, those who actually have the opportunity to vote and to have their votes counted. Human beings and not bison and not elk. The references come from my being a visitor at Yellowstone National Park just today and hearing about all the ways that humans can damage both nature and wildlife, meaning other species.
Yellowstone aside, it feels that people as voters are so easily swayed by let’s just say, the sound of the words “law and order”. Law and order sound like good words as long as the users of the words aren’t talking about creating laws that would limit the use of guns, as but one example. And as long as we are not talking about people, and the President, having to follow actual mask orders during the pandemic. So, when it comes to halting or minimizing the spread of the virus, order isn’t all that important. After all freedom comes before law or order.
As in the recent indoor Trump rally in Nevada. Why, there is even a mask order and a limit to gatherings of 50 people in the state, but never mind. If Trump says it’s okay and indirectly encourages his supporters to break the rules of social distancing, never mind, again. Right? There is no rhyme or reason to this and certainly not a respect for either issues of contagion or issues of structures elected officials have put in place.
But wait a second. Let’s get to the deeper meaning of the term “law and order”. It’s about fighting criminal elements, and it’s been decided for example that criminal elements do not have to do with systemic racism and with violence against people of color, but rather the opposite. It’s not about helping people live together with integrity and respect but doing whatever it takes to protect white people.
We had our law and order Mayor in New York, some of us remember well (right, that would be Giuliani). And it was a good time for New Yorkers who traveled into the city and out by train and who didn’t have to be bothered, for example by homelessness. The epidemics of poverty and visible crime were moved back into pockets where they could stay still, where violence could fester without being seen by the rest of us.
We are being told we need to pay attention now, that the time is beyond due. And many of us, liberal and conservative alike, are agreeing. We see that law and order might mean something different, something that would increase peace and justice for all of us, where laws and order would in fact reflect that movement.
There is nothing wrong with Joe Biden. Everything is relative, remember. He may not have the swagger of a Donald Trump, or to go back to Yellowstone, the swagger of a bull elk, one I saw today confidently in charge of his fifteen females. Nice that there are these mating games and customs passed down to generations of animals; it seems to work for them. Except that we — we humans — are supposed to be obligated to evaluate and change our behavior and our habits.
I know apology isn’t the most loved American ritual, though maybe we can embrace growing up and becoming more conscious of our actions and their implications. We have the worst record of incarceration in the entire world. We have abandoned agreements to stop the disastrous spread of climate change. We have systemic racism, and most of us know this. To un-know it is to want to reinstate odes to slavery all over again, certainly to opt for at least two separate nations.
Our relationship with Donald Trump is a fraught one. Most people who love him have been raised with strictness and punishment in their backgrounds. Fire and brimstone and hell to pay if you break the commandments: but settle on the biggest breaker of commandments just about ever to live, and he’s your guy. Hey, so I loved Tony Soprano and have experienced some yearning for a Mafia soldier/godfather in my pocket; I can get this.
But in the service of our mental health our task, is to grow to become accountable for our wishes so we don’t become purely obedient or purely oppositional. So that we don’t follow those for whom law, order, integrity do not matter whatsoever.
Here’s the deal, then. Joe Biden IS NOT VULNERABLE. WE ARE THE VULNERABLE ONES. We are the ones who might allow the voting in of someone who does not give a damn about our planet, about racial equality, or about the crimes and misdemeanors he has committed against women, and that is the tip of the iceberg. Law and order, are we kidding? It’s only law and order when it suits him, Trump that is.
We need to understand our craving of violence and our craving of power and our craving of exceptionalism. So that we can understand OUR OWN VULNERABILITIES. SO, WE CAN IDENTIFY WITH VULNERABILITY AS THE VULNERABILITY OF ALL OF US, AND OF OUR PLANET.
Before, during and after Trump, we are still the vulnerable ones; it is a key part of being alive.
If we have the nerve to admit this and say it out loud and protect it — our vulnerability — we may just start growing the courage we will need. We will need courage if we are to actually work together instead of screaming our bullishness from the mountaintops proving exactly what I wonder.