Don’t you hate it when you open something to read and the first words are ‘US president, Donald Trump’? I know I do. I am so sick of being shown, being forced to pay attention to, being obliged to accept the existence and the indulgence of, that ridiculous buffoon that I barely have words to articulate my sense of hopelessness. There’s a terror attack in London, and he wants to ban Muslims from travelling, as though that were a positive step to take. Americans can have all the freedom they want, since their nation was built thereupon, but they’ll take all the trouble required to deny it to people of whom they are suspicious. Just as their borders will ideally remain sacrosanct and impregnable but they can put the planes in the air and drop a bunch of bombs on any other country to which they’ve taken exception.
I took my second ride in an Uber yesterday, on the way to ACMI to see Emma Franz’s new picture, ‘Bill Frisell: A Portrait.’ My driver had in the morning collected two American passengers who did not want to disclose their place of origin because they are embarrassed about how their country is looking to everyone else. He and I talked about the lamentable state of the world, particularly in view of the attacks on London Bridge and at the Borough Market, and the hopelessness of the people who have been elected to lead. And I said to him what I have long thought: that the missing thing is respect. People are not inclined to listen to one another or to try to understand each other’s desires and needs. Imagine if you took to friendship the approach that world leaders take to international relations. You’d be pretty lonely. But they have friends, right? So why can’t they work from the personal level to try to make others feel valued, important, worthwhile?
I’m cross about a few things just now but what I’m saying here simply makes me sad. Why is it that people can’t get around the table and find out what’s required for peace? Why can’t they engage in the appropriate level of self-critique to establish how they may possibly have put other people off-side? How can it be that people are happy to remain so suspicious of each other, so determined to see only the bad, and then so content with advertising only the worst of themselves? Why are they so unable to give anything up for anyone else? What do you say to children? Share. Be kind. Show patience. Do your best. I love you.
We need something new out here. Something very old, actually, but something very different and currently out of favour. Love. Trust. Kindness. Attention. Respect.