The U.S.A. recently had another birthday, its 244th, if you begin counting with the Declaration of Independence. The people living here then didn’t think of themselves as a single nation, but the union they formed has been around long enough for everyone to assume this wild democratic experiment is going to work.
In 2020, it’s hard to imagine a world without democracy, although it’s a relatively new thing for a country to exist without a king or queen (usually a king) to make rules, lead armies, collect taxes, and generally direct traffic. Since monarchs have popped up in just about every corner of the globe, it seems safe to assume that the concept is archetypal, that is, they hold an indelible place in the human mind. We know about them even if we’ve never seen one. Ask any child what a king is. They know.
That makes being the president of a democratic society a very tricky trick. How does one assume great power and responsibility without falling into the trap of pride, arrogance and entitlement?
Whether by dumb luck or divine providence, America has mostly avoided presidents with an arrogant bent. Can anyone imagine Washington, Jefferson, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan or other former presidents crowing about their own brilliance, popularity or ability to make money? Think of Lincoln, who said in his address at Gettysburg, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here …” 160 years later those words are still remembered as a testamony to his humility.
It has thus been a bit of a shock to have a president who endlessly praises himself. Maybe that’s okay. At least he has no false modesty. One day he may utter a complete sentence, so we can all know what he’s thinking. Does he, or does he not, believe he was elected as king?
The first kings I know about were Egyptian pharaohs living sometime around 3000 B.C. Since they were considered to be gods, and thus immortal, they built elaborate tombs to house their bodies after death. Some of those tombs were pyramids and, no, Moses didn’t build them to store grain. Moses lived more than a thousand years after the last pyramid was built, so that theory, wherever it came from, can be ditched.
I’ve been in a few of those pyramids, and believe me, they aren’t the ideal place to live. Their wall paintings are spectacular, but bedding down on a rock slab every night could make a week feel like eternity. Maybe that’s how they got their concept of eternal life; or maybe a good bed isn’t important if you’re, well, deadish.
But back to our present president, perhaps we could assist him in retiring soon so he can begin work on his very own pyramid. He seems to like Florida. That would be a good place for it, somewhere near Disney World, which would be appropriate for several reasons. Pyramids take a while to construct, and they’re expensive, so get out your wallets. I’ll be by soon to take up a collection to help speed things along.
Happy retirement to you, Mr. President.