As many have famous, United States President Donald Trump embodies the very worst American traits. If one have been to caricature America’s vices, from bombast to narcissism, heartless individualism and poisonous machismo, one would provide you with somebody who appears very very similar to Trump.
But, by imbuing the president with all of America’s faults, supporters of Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket place an excessive amount of religion in electoral politics. The elimination of Trump won’t erase America’s faults. As a substitute, like Irish playwright Oscar Wilde’s The Image of Dorian Grey, Trump is only a reflection of America’s very soul.
By all means vote and in any other case take part in electoral politics. However don’t shrink back from the painful strategy of self-examination so as to uncover efficient methods to heal divisions and handle injustices in your individual life and circle.
Personally, I’ve been striving to study the methods I’ve benefited from the established order and taking some concrete steps to higher perceive and assist those that have been ignored. There are a lot of issues we will do on a way more common foundation past voting each few years, and far nearer to house. In my very own context as a white settler in Canada, this e-book — which explains Canada’s Indian Act and its repercussions — has helped.
First revealed in Lippincott’s Month-to-month Journal in 1890, after which a 12 months later in prolonged e-book type, The Image of Dorian Grey is Wilde’s tackle the Faustian cut price. In it, the protagonist makes a take care of the satan for short-term acquire adopted by an inevitable downfall.
In Wilde’s novel, the younger Dorian Grey sits for a portrait painted by his buddy, Basil Hallward. Upon seeing the portray, Grey is struck by its youthful magnificence and vigour, and despairs that, not like the portray, he’ll age and decay. If solely he may stay as youthful because the portray!
Unwittingly, by wishing so, Grey ensures that the portray itself will tackle all of the ravages of age and the distortions of wickedness, whereas Grey himself stays younger and untainted by his actions, regardless of how egocentric and evil.
At first horrified by this case and repulsed by the portray because it grows ever extra sinister, Grey provides himself over to a lifetime of hedonism, leaving many ruined lives in his wake. By the novel’s finish — spoiler alert! — Grey is pushed mad by his ludicrously consequence-free life, and acknowledges that although he has averted the bodily results of his actions, his soul is as responsible because the portray is repulsive.
Caught in a cycle of injuring others and dwelling an unfulfilled and meaningless lifetime of base pleasures, Grey turns to the portray as the reason for his lack of ability to vary for the higher.
In the long run, he thrusts a knife by the portray to destroy it and break its maintain over him, however solely manages to kill himself. The portray reverts to its former magnificence because the twisted and newly aged physique of the true Dorian Grey lies useless on the ground.
In a sure sense, America is lucky to have in Trump a stunning picture of its personal excesses and divisions. Stunning pictures, in spite of everything, have the ability to, properly, shock. And generally a system wants a shock so as to right itself.
Canada has lots of the identical vices as America, together with rising inequality, an out-of-touch and cynical political class and its personal demons of historic and systemic racism and exclusion, however it stays straightforward for a lot of Canadians to say: “Properly, no less than we dwell in Canada!”
With no determine like Trump reflecting their sins like Dorian Grey’s hideous portrait, Canadians are tougher to evoke to react in opposition to the injustices and inequalities that encompass them. Trump affords a helpful point of interest.
However such a focus runs the chance of turning into a scapegoat.
Even when they could have been exacerbated over the previous 4 years, America’s most urgent issues — akin to deepening divisions in every thing from earnings and wealth to political opinions, horrors dealing with determined immigrants on the southern border and an absurdly partisan Supreme Courtroom — pre-existed Trump and can outlast him.
Electoral politics up so far, and even the administrations of supposedly “good” presidents, noticed these urgent issues develop in depth, and a Biden presidency will virtually definitely do the identical.
Like Dorian Grey, America is due for a reckoning with its personal soul. Eradicating Trump will do no extra good than destroying Grey’s portrait did.
Oscar Wilde used his protagonist to touch upon late Nineteenth-century English excessive society. Despite the fact that Dorian Grey represents an excessive instance of the hedonism and indolence of the rich aristocracy — a caricature, even — Wilde definitely meant for his contemporaries to see themselves within the pages of his novel. Good literature, like all good artwork, ought to trigger us to suppose critically about our world and our place in it. The perfect literature has the capability to shock us into a brand new consciousness, and even concrete motion.
Many inventive works have been dropped at bear to touch upon present occasions, akin to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Story. I counsel that The Image of Dorian Grey ought to remind us, particularly these of us gearing up for an necessary election, that the image itself was by no means the issue.
As a substitute, the image solely revealed the darkness of Grey’s personal soul, simply as Trump lays naked the darkness in America’s soul (and the soul of many different nations apart from).
Matthew A. Sears doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.