I was 17 years old and living away from home for the first time when I went by myself to see a Russian Poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, read at the YMHA in Manhattan, uptown. He was a tall, slender man in his early forties, as handsome as a movie star, refined, graceful. His poems, read by him in English, were sometimes angry, sardonic, often beautiful and romantic. But one of the two that stayed with me best from that magical evening was one called “Chidhood”. In it he talks about a man being beaten in a village, in the snow. He describes the gusto with which everyone piles up on him, eager to get in a punch or a kick. We don’t know what the victim did to be so ostracized and mistreated, it’s not relevant to the poem because the poem ends with something like, and I’m paraphrasing wildly: ‘Even if it is for a just cause and there are 100 people doing it, the poet will never be the 101st!. Even for a just cause.,
That really struck me. I had already taken a stand for lots of just causes, against racial discrimination in education and housing, for peace, against the bomb, for birth control. Suddenly the poem paused a deep moral problem for me – even if you are right, is it ever okay to pile on someone who cannot defend him or herself? When its 100 to one, or even two to one, or three? Is it ever okay, really, to kick a person when he or she is already down?
I’m still working on it because…
I really hate Donald Trump. I hate him about as much as I have ever hated anyone. I’m not proud of it. In fact, one of the things I hate the most about Donald Trump is that I feel he forces me to hate him and being hate
-filled is not where I want to be. It leads, historically, to some very poor decision making. Logic, Rumi, Buddha, Yahweh and others have pointed out, better than I could ever do, that we are not only our brother’s keeper, although we are that, too, we actually are our brother. That’s the thing about humans. Seen from far enough away we’re just like ants, 100,000 to the inch. It’s extremely difficult to tell one of us from another. The human genome project taught us that not only are we 99.9% IDENTICAL to one another, we’re something like 99.4% the same as the humble fruitfly. The Fruitfly!
Nowadays, I find myself entertaining revenge fantasies in a way I haven’t done since grade school when I only wished that someone would be caught out for throwing the ball way too hard in dodgeball and being forced to apologize to my (always losing) team in front of the whole class. That’s about it.
I totally hated both George Bushes but I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them personally, I just wanted them to go away. I definitely wanted to see Nixon go to jail but when he didn’t, I moved on with the rest of my life seamlessly.
But with Trump and his willing executioners, I seem to want that entire wild pack of anonymous drunken Russian peasants to run him down and beat the crap out of him. I want him to roll in the snow muddied gravel trying to protect his weird hair and crappily made up fat face, I want his oversize tie and garish “let me put you in a new business school vodka steak casino” shiny blue suit to rip and tear, I want that smug smile wiped off his face and I can’t seem to help it.
Luckily, I am, it turns out that I am very similar to the average fruitfly and I truly hope that between that fact and the beautiful poem I heard so many years ago, when it finally does come down, and I have little doubt that it will, I will not rush to be the hundred and first one running.