I concede, this is the world we all inhabit now. Every day brings a fresh and withering assault on intelligence and decency. Apparently not content with squandering the opportunity to broadcast messages of unity, hope, and inspiration to a world in turmoil, the man at the bully pulpit feels inclined to broadcast petty vindictive assaults on those who fail to shower him with praise every waking moment. When he grows bored of these activities, he fills the gaps with golfing or self-absorbed brooding. After all, there are so many tragedies in the world intruding on his primary needs, constant personal adoration and monetary enrichment.
When pressed by poor "optics" he will make phone calls to the families of recently fallen U. S. soldiers. Due to the tragic events behind the calls, one might be tempted to imagine some expression of genuine empathy. One would be wrong.
This leads us to consider our greatest recent tragedy. America has elected an insecure, self-absorbed man incapable of empathy. I realized this highly unlikely because we are all rubberneckers now, driving past a seemingly endless existential car wreck. But, just for a moment, forget him. In the silent instant that follows, let's ask ourselves, "What does this say about us"? Can the answer be so straight forward? Could we have elected him in order to stare the New American Ideals in the face? The unhindered accumulation of wealth without accountability. Self-possession over community or greater good. The cynical manipulation of the less fortunate and less sophisticated. The permanent installation of the de facto oligarchy consisting of the top one-percent.
Are our ideals as two-dimensional as our reflections? Not if we stand up. Those at the top can't or won't. The best among us need to stand up and reflect the best in all of us.