I am a third of the way through the second Game Of Thrones book, A Clash Of Kings. Arya’s sword fighting teacher says to her, “See with your eyes.” This phrase returns to her on several occasions when there are conclusions her mind would rather jump to than see what is in reality before her.
That we see what we want to rather than what is has been on my mind. But I only just connected this thought to something that’s been troubling me for months. It’s been hard for me to reconcile people I know to be honest and hardworking and their support of 45. And it’s been hard to understand why if you value hard work you might value someone who regularly shafts his business partners. It’s hard to understand why if you value hard work you might value a person who has profited off obvious scams. Trump University was quite clearly a scam, even if you refuse to acknowledge that his real estate business most closely resembles a Ponzi scheme.
My working theory to explain this has been that they just aren’t looking at inconvenient facts. Or that their media preferences ensure they never see these facts at all. But another theory altogether has arisen in its place. What if the American myth around hard work is the con? What if this has been the lie deeply embedded in the American myth deployed at anyone without hope to distract them into endless toil?
And perhaps 45’s people believe themselves in on the con. And they will say the words to further the myth. But that’s all they are, words, not deeds. Ironically, I think his people are at once in on the con and the marks, but that’s really beside the point.
If the founding father’s really believed in hard work what exactly did they need slaves for? Why wasn’t Thomas Jefferson out there tilling his own fields? If hard work really purifies the soul, I don’t know why they enslaved others to do all the heavy lifting.
One of the aspects of 45’s presidency that I personally find fatiguing, is that I keep stumbling over American ideals and finding them facades papering over the enshrined right of the powerful to exploit the weak. In some ways it reminds me of losing my faith. I never lost faith in The Beatitudes. I never lost faith in the golden rule. I just saw with my eyes that some of the very people espousing these things to me do not practice them. I shed the naïve belief that people using these words would in fact keep them in good faith.