After the loud conversation back and forth across the floor of the Barnes & Nobles Café, the extollers of Trump’s strength and the virtues of Chinese authoritarianism had settled back into their seats. Suddenly the one at the table next to me stood up and made his way across the floor. He was excited about the Asian gentlemen who had stood on a bench to take a photo of the floor layout, and then probed around under the magazine racks. “That’s just what they do – case the target, looking for places to hide bombs, then they come back spraying bullets.” Five minutes later, the store manager came by with a note written on receipt paper: “He’s our shelving maintainer.”
Shortly thereafter the gentleman’s wife arrived to guide him out of the store, offering me a pleading look.
Fear is such an easy tool to use to suck power out of people. It’s not just Donald Trump – the strategy was perfected in modern American politics by Lee Atwater and picked up by Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove. It’s the world-view of Roger Ailes at FOX News, a man that maintains a second entrance to the building so that the terrorists don’t know where to wait for him.
There is indeed a lot to be afraid of in the world today, but Roosevelt’s observation still holds true: “The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself.” Those that heed people like Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump are subscribing to a mentality that divorces them from reality. It is a mentality that they propagate because it is only through that effort that the mentality survives. While there is comfort in the weight of its presence, as its adherents lose their ability to generate value in the world, the mentality must continue to spread in order to keep its power.
I confronted this for the first time back in 2002. Kevin told me that he had a dream in which he was walking to school and entered a secret tunnel that led into the White House. I asked him which backpack he was wearing, and he said “The one from Mom’s house.” I decided to go spelunking in her one night, and just bore down into the fear. I finally broke through into a psychic fog. Feeling my way through it, I discovered that it covered the entire nation. Curious, I put my ethereal hands under it and lifted it off the ground for a few seconds, then let go. It settled back down to earth.
It seemed that people found comfort in it.
Donald Trump’s popularity reflects the realization by the Republican base that their fear-generated loyalties haven’t brought them strength. Well, that’s not going to change until they choose to ally with authentic strength. It’s waiting there for them, what Christians call The Holy Spirit, that eternal repository of the wisdom of loving. It’s a mentality that finds beauty and joy in all things – particularly the weak and wounded that focus its attentions. It’s coming closer to us, and when it arrives, Ailes, Limbaugh, Rove and Trump will discover that all they have done is gather together those that need it most. It will sweep through the ranks of the fearful in an instant, because those that maintain fear have stolen the strength that once allowed pride to insist that it could go it alone.
This is what was meant by “like a thief in the night.” The mighty will trumpet their virtues, and convince the weak to tender loyalty for false promises of relief. But finally the weak will have nowhere to turn but toward love, and the mighty will realize that Christ had been there all along, waiting quietly in the background for truth to dawn in the heart.
And so what would I do, if I was on the stage with Donald Trump, when he begins spouting inane fear-mongering nonsense?
Ha, ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Laugh for a good thirty seconds.