Sneaky Lions

Harry Drabik

Each spring I daily safari my yard, digger in hand, hunting the bold but crafty dandelion. I’m familiar with their tactics of not showing until different hours, tucking in alongside other plants, and employing a root strategy employing rocks to complicate their removal. Last week I had one with a root going through the fissure in a small stone; now that’s strategy. I’m not opposed to dandelions in general. They have their place, which is not my yard.  

Dealing with pesky pests it’s not difficult to think “Why do we have” dandelions, mosquitoes, ticks, floods, diseases, or any other unpleasantness. We imagine a world minus crab grass or colon cancer as a better place to be. Playing God fits some human tendency in us to put order and to fix the existing. If I’m to play I’d go for getting rid of all those who like to play God. So there I go along with a great many others. I wonder how many of human unkind would be left if all the ones who’d play at minor gods were whisked away. If we were to include hermits, recluses, and monks as a form of god play in reverse there might not be much of anyone left. Those who were left would be lonely, I think, and might wish for us to return; a wish that would get them to join the rest of us so we’d all be together in the end.  

Digging dandelions is not mentally taxing and leaves me free to mull, and that I do adding a recent mull on an overheard remark about Trump. In simple the comment made the judgment that Trump was evil. Now pause. There’s no need of me to dispute a free expression or defend a President. My personal opine about Trump was and is that not many who voted for him did so because they liked him as a person or were wholly keen on his views. He got votes, I think, because he was not the other candidate and enough voters believed an abrupt alteration in course and style was due.  

Whether I have that right or wrong time might tell. Maybe it is so that Clinton was cheated and the Russians called the shots. (I suspect general agreement that Putin is sharply savvy.) Of interest in the “Russia did it” or (a Clinton view) that students in the computer superpower of Macedonia ran negative fake news about the defeated candidate is the tiff being to some extent one of who gets to play god here. One set of god lings decries “How dare the Macedonians or Russians” (the other set uses Saudis and Indonesians) play meddling god in our affairs? We want to do it ourselves. If anyone should play god shouldn’t it be us? I think that’s the actual story, but for sales purposes it has to be improved with questions of tampering, interfering, meddling, falsifying, and so on in order to make one stand at god play appear superior to the one being challenged.  

Personally, I find it sad that a supposedly educated electorate can be as naïve and requires so little of its elected. It sometimes seems as if taking the meaning and requirements of a body politic is just too boring and difficult. Instead we gravitate to howler matches over whether the Russians are worse than the Saudis; topics of grave national issue I’m sure.  

To me the sneaky business of god playing politicals is akin to flushing a lawn of weed and unwanteds. No, I do not mean the earth should all be lawn, but in certain areas it should be OK to sit on a grassy bank with friends and not be treated to dog piles, thorns, or poisonous ivy. So in addition to objecting that others play god I’d like politicians to not do so themselves and take pains to avoid the grave error of failure (the Greeks called it hubris) of not recognizing the immense flaw of playing at human divinity. Doing so is so dangerous.  

Take the example of Trump being evil. Easy to say and easy to use in itself it is not so big a thing, but in the dynamic established it is god play vengeful style. First off, labeling Trump evil pats one on the back as being better than that, no evil, possibly saintly. This puts us a ways into dogma, doesn’t it? The sides are drawn as moral opposites. Yup, that sounds dogmatic. It gets better as the congregation fills because if Trump be evil then those who agree with or support him are also evil. The saintly give unto themselves hosts of devils to oppose. See the fun of playing god? You get to decide who is worthy and who not. You get to impose a moral judgment to suit personal mood or whim. How easily this is done. You might recall Clinton’s basket of deplorables. Deplorable or evil is kissing cousin enough for me. How lightly and blithely we’re able to dismiss the unwashed evil to make room for the elect of heart. You’d find the same script in a Middle Ages morality play, but of course our tickets of admission and the consequences of applauding or not cost considerably more.  

There can be major consequences in minor differences. You’ve likely heard the hack old saying telling us to “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” Trite as that is it preserves the sinner as human and worthy of respect. Does labeling of deplorable or evil do as much? I think not. You’ve got god play there and it is dehumanizing as well. Characterizing others using god play is a practice we need to resist in ourselves and challenge in others. Love the believer and hate the unbeliever is not a moral equivalency with Love the sinner. Love the believer is a habit of nasty god play. If you insist at least go for the loving version rather than the one that divides, excludes, and calls it loving and just.