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  • Reverend James Squire

The Wheelbarrow of Chaos



 

“It’s disgusting when he goes off the teleprompter. That is the chaos that comes with Donald Trump,” were Haley’s words before the South Carolina Primary which she lost. What Haley and others haven’t figured out is that chaos is the very thing that brings him more votes each time the word, chaos, is used. It was Walt Kelly on a poster to promote earth day (not Pogo) who said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

 

No one has said or admit knowing it, but creating chaos is what makes Trump so attractive to voters. It is the answer to the question that still goes unanswered of why the more he does wrong, the more likeable he is to the electorate. Everyone including me have pointed to his terrible behavior as revealed in the 91 indictments should be enough to have people run from him as though he has the plague, but the opposite is true. Tim Scott, a black member of Congress, who was embarrassed by him publicly while sharing the stage, said “I love you.” Trump has not been a friend to black people. So why are people doing the opposite of what you and I would expect?

 

Like the country music song of some years ago “we have been looking for love in all the wrong places.” There is that tired old joke about someone wheeling his goods across the Mexican border in a wheelbarrow. The authorities knew that he was stealing something, but they couldn’t figure out what as they searched everything in the wheelbarrow.  Finally, the officials said that they would not charge him with a crime if he would tell them what he was stealing, “We thoroughly searched your wheelbarrow.” The thief got a smile on his face and said, “Wheelbarrows. That is what I have been stealing.” The moral is that the truth may be so obvious that we miss it.

 

There is a decision-making process in ethics, that if can’t find an obvious solution to a problem, start eliminating everything that you think it is. Then see what is left. So, what is Trump’s reason for his ongoing success with bad behavior and craziness. His wheelbarrow is chaos or disruption.

 

When one of his rally goers was asked what policies of former president Trump attracted him to Trump, he said, “I don’t know. I am here to see what he’s going to do next.” Trump has made the point that if he is elected everything is going to be different and certainly chaotic (Khaos is the Greek word for chaos which means a gaping void.)  It is hard to admit, but chaos is attractive to a good many people. There are studies that chaos or disruption is seen as good or desirable by marginalized people. “Anything has got to be better than this life I have now.”

 

We see this graphically with January 6, the very definition of chaos and disruption. People have forgiven Trump for that either by indicating that it never happened or if it did, that is no reason not to vote for him. The actions of his extreme followers, the Maga Republicans, gets an insufficient reaction by others. As Cheney, Kinzinger, and historian Heather Cox Richardson proclaim, “they are destroying our democracy.” That is exactly what they are doing, and his followers know that and don’t care. What’s next may be better. A disruption is seen as something that may eventually help them as Trump proclaims. What Americans believe is that disruptions and chaos can change business as usual where they remain on the margins.

 

There are many examples of chaos or disruption in our daily lives creating unpredictability. The weatherman is one of the few positions where you don’t get backlash because the word “probably” is used often. If you don’t use probably, you will find yourself in the position of John Bolaris (remember him) who predicted and hyped the storm of the century and nothing happened. He was run out of town to the New York market.

 

There are companies that breed chaos and disruption into their various fields of endeavor. Netflix started out sending disks of movies to homes for rent. They drove Blockbuster out of business. They then turned to something called streaming and everyone panicked and had to get on board.

 

Trump’s love of Putin and failure to adequately acknowledge the death of Navalny or his demeaning of the military which are issues that are sacrosanct and would bring past political candidates to their ouster do not move the needle of his popularity.

 

Chaos is the opposite of predictable. Chaos is exciting. It is the opposite of boring. Chaos clouds our ability to be objective. We hear I am voting for Trump and not Biden. Things were better under Trump. Objectively speaking they were not. Chaos remembers events as different from reality. Chaos is like grief. We only remember what fits what we want to remember, the good things. Emerging from chaos allows our lives to feel a purpose. Chaos, by definition, turns reason into the unreasonable. It’s like the air that we breathe. We feel it and take it for granted. Trump provided that, but we cannot see it. We experience it and then forget that it is confused with meaning that has filled the void in our lives.

 

Chaos Theory which is a scientific/mathematical proposition that a small unrecognized event can have major consequences. It is most often applied to weather and is certainly descriptive of Trump’s wheelbarrow. You may have heard of one manifestation of Chaos Theory which is the “Butterfly Effect” where a butterfly’s wings in Texas can cause major weather implications halfway across the world as a violent storm. While focusing on the storm, we forget about its origin because it goes unnoticed, an apt description of why people are so drawn to the likes of the chaos induced consequences of peoples’ response to Trump.

 

Chaos is Trump’s wheelbarrow. It contains all the things that he brings with him, immorality, narcissism, and outrageous behavior. Make no mistake about it. What has defied all reason is because of the chaos that many love for it may bring possible purpose and meaning to their lives which he disrupts daily. It is the only answer left. It is as good an answer as anything else.

 

Maybe Nikki Haley should find another way of stopping Trump without using the word, chaos, that enlivens his base. It’s like asking, what do you want the thrill of the rollercoaster or the boring of the merry go round?

 

The courts and the law deal in facts and order which are the enemies of chaos. Even that gets interpreted by his followers as giving to his cause of chaos so that it doesn’t stop. They don’t connect that he has stiffed more working people that anyone in modern history. They can’t see that through the haze of chaos of a better possible world for them and their children. It is like the butterfly of chaos that goes unrecognized creates a storm of epic proportions.

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