On being … eclipsed

By Ingrid Sapona

I’ve always liked analogies. I think they’re a useful tool for analyzing things. To craft a good analogy you need to carefully think about different aspects of the things you’re ultimately comparing. The clearer you see it, the better you’ll be able to draw a comparison to something else. I also find analogies can be a useful way of helping others see what you see. A thought-provoking or clever analogy can bridge the gap between different sides because it can help both sides see the underling commonalities.

The August solar eclipse was a big story for many here in North America. It wasn’t a big deal for me personally, in part because here in Toronto, the coverage was about 70%. I did find a number of things about it interesting though. For example, the fact that power grid operators in North America did quite a lot of planning leading up to the event to make sure that there were enough energy resources to compensate for the drop in solar power.

I’ve also found stories friends relayed in the wake of the eclipse interesting. Sailor friends of mine who weren’t particularly excited about the idea of the eclipse decided, nevertheless, to head out for a sail that afternoon to experience the eclipse. Afterward they both commented on how surprising – almost eerie – the change was. Part of it, they agreed, was due to the temperature change – but it was also about the change in the colour of the sky. 

Another friend, who lives on the west coast, made a day of it with her family. They travelled to someplace in Oregon where the coverage was 100%. When she returned, she said it was hard to explain how profoundly moving she found it. 

It’s been nearly six weeks since the eclipse, so I thought it odd when I saw the word in a headline last week. Curious, I began reading. Turns out the article was about Trump’s vitriol aimed at NFL players who “take the knee*”. I wasn’t interested in the story of Colin Kaepernick’s actions last season, nor do I care about the lingering impact of it on him or the game. So, like many folks, I found it ridiculous that Trump weighed in on the matter at all. 

Of course I get that there are elements of news to the story. There are freedom of speech issues and race issues intertwined in the story – both incredibly important topics. But, Trump’s bombastic claim during a political rally that NFL owners should fire the players is not an attempt to raise those issues, much less to start serious dialog about them.

To be honest, I don’t even think his bombast is intended to insight or inflame people – though I think it does both. There’s been lots of discussion about why he behaves as he does. Some think it’s impulse control (a lack thereof, that is), others think it’s because of psychological issues. Personally, I think a huge element of it is intentional subterfuge – keeping people focused on a ridiculous comment so no one pays attention to what others in his administration and family are doing.

The article described Trump’s tirades and twitter storms as eclipsing all other news. That, I think, is the sad truth. Indeed, on the day North Korea’s foreign minister said his country considers Trump’s tweet that North Korea’s regime “won’t be around much longer” a declaration of war, the lead story on two US television networks was Trump’s attack on NFL players – a story that was already two days old, not to mention trivial by comparison.

Just as we have no control over a solar eclipse, Trump’s behaviour is out of our control. Given that we’re all mere bystanders to the Trump eclipse, there are steps we can take to help us get through it. The first is to not let your gaze wander into the light, as doing so will blind you to what’s really going on. Indeed, we must not forget that much is still going on behind the shadow Trump is casting and that we won’t know what it all is until he moves on. We must also be prepared to deal with the changes in atmosphere and our surroundings while Trump’s shadow looms because – god willing – eventually his shadow will recede and the sun will return.

*Is it just me or do you find that expression odd? It sounds like something you’d say if you’re describing some guy getting hit in the groin – not someone down on one knee. Anyway…

© 2017 Ingrid Sapona


Post a Comment

<< Home