I Shudder to Think
By Edith Morgan
For two days now I have watched as the horror of the January 6th events at the US Capitol are laid out before us. I was warm and safe here in my home as I watched, but an occasional wave of fear swept over me, as I recalled my parents’ discussions about our escape from Nazi Germany in 1933 and the behavior of the youth gangs and others as Hitler made his way up to the top and became chancellor in January (we got out in March 1933 with just our lives).
We in America have had it pretty easy: we have not been invaded, and we have managed to survive several economic upheavals because there were always humane, decent leaders who helped get us through the worst.
But this time, we are in the grip of something that most Americans have not experienced before: we had been led for four years by a President who all his life has gotten what he wanted, when he wanted, and who has never learned anything from his frequent failures and bankruptcies –because he has always been bailed out or been allowed, even encouraged, to believe that he has always won.
While I was growing up, Freud was in vogue, and I was particularly interested in his ideas about the three aspects of our psychological make-up: the ego, the id and the superego. A normal, decent human being should have a balance of all three, and if the superego was perhaps a bit stronger than the other two that was good, because it made for a human being with a lot of conscience. At the time I had not really seen anyone who was totally lacking in any one of those parts – although some of Buddhist philosophy seemed to say we should strive to be totally selfless, and some Western religions were emphasizing empathy.
But most of us had had no experience with anyone completely lacking a “superego”-conscience-less and totally unable to feel remorse or empathy. But it has become very obvious that this is what is wrong with Donald Trump. A lot of those close to him eventually realize there is something terribly lacking, but usually they see only behaviors that puzzle them and are not really able to understand what motivates them.
Persons liberated from the restrictions of the “still, small voice” that is our conscience feel entitled to do whatever they wish, without responsibility – and that is what we have seen in Donald Trump, not only in the last four years, but always.
Unfortunately, that behavior is contagious – and the cunning that the conscienceless use to convince their victims works very well – and there are too many people with weak super egos, who are too easily taken in, and who then imitate the behaviors, and excuse them. We have seen that in action all over America, and its evil flower bloomed on January 6th.
But even if the US Senate convicts Trump, the root of this evil are still alive and thriving …
We were warned during the first Trump impeachment hearings that if we let Trump’s odious behavior go unchecked, it would encourage even worse behavior. How right that prediction was! If we make that error again, what worse fate awaits America? I shudder to think …