As I was browsing through the stacks in Barnes & Noble, an intermission from my main mission of purchasing Stephen King's new masterpiece, I happened upon a book entitled Seuss-isms! A Guide to Life for Those Just Starting Out...and Those Already on Their Way. It is a short "self-help" book on how to deal with different aspects of life through quotes from Dr. Seuss's books. Every subject from graduation to picky eaters is tackled in this slight, yet brilliantly-crafted, tome.
I happened upon on piece of matter-of-fact wisdom that made me rear my head back and let out a lusty laugh full of mirth and venom:
"I do not like this one so well.
All he does is yell, yell, yell.
I will not have this one about.
When he comes in I put him out."
- Dr. Seuss, from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
In the moment I read that little couplet, my mind instantly flashed to presidential hopeful Donald Trump. I don't think it requires a lot of explanation why this image was conjured up in my mind when I turned to this page. Cmon, even the creature in the picture has "The Donald's" hair!
As I got home and analyzed my day, this moment stuck in my mind in a big way. What had been a humorous moment was now being intellectually dissected in my mind. I have meditated on why Donald Trump is a particularly unpleasant candidate, without trying to mirror his trademark Ad Hominem attacks. When I read this quote, it was as if the heavens opened and I was finally able to pinpoint the exact point that epitomizes why Trump gets my dander up.
This little piece of wisdom is something that has been maturing in our collective moral culture for quite some time: the person who speaks the loudest often is the one who has the least to say. The rational mind when speaking, though relatively quieter, can still be imbued with passion. The irrational mind, which issues as barking protestations, is often as hollow as a $6.99 chocolate Bunny that you buy at Walgreen's for 20 cents the day after Easter. The informed mind can speak eloquently and choose every word with care and form.
Donald Trump, when he takes the podium, speaks in Ad Hominem attacks and empty rhetoric. With the zeal of an eccentric on the corner spouting that the armageddon is nigh for the unbelievers, Trump lets his words do the talking, and let's just say he's no Dostoyevsky. His rants are aimless and his speech filled with hatred. To quote Leon Klinghoffer from John Adams' Opera The Death of Klinghoffer, "There's so much anger in you. And hate...You just want to see People die."
Trump knows that the people are looking for a radical change and he offers as radical a change from Obama as is humanly possible. Where Obama is level-headed to the point of nearing comatose, Trump's entire being is vitriolic. Even the most simple of phrases comes out as a salute to bow to the future dictator that vows to return American to its former (pure) glory. Where have we heard that before?
Trump yells, gurns, caresses, and cajoles his supporters into a united frenzy, whipping them into a cake filled with panic and hysteria.
I grew up with the writings of Dr. Seuss. His morals, his lessons, and his kind-hearted prose are part of what shaped my moral fiber. He taught me to accept every person as equal, to protect the environment, to try new things, and to have fun with life. “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope." That quote of Seuss's embodies his philosophy in the most rudimentary way. That statement has become a mantra that has shaped my life in the most joyous, purely positive way.
Life is not rigid and it is by no means perfect. You should fill your life with good friends, thick books, and a sense of awe and happiness simply to exist for the short time we're given in this fascinating world we inhabit. Life is far, far too short to live your life filled with feverish panic and doubt.
The other day a patron at the library where I work asked why I am able to smile so much. It's the hardest thing to explain, and I fear the answer I gave him in the moment was cluttered and incomprehensible. Now that I've had a few days to ponder that question, I would say that I was able to smile every day (and have such a good attitude as a result) is because I've seen darkness and death in my life. It's okay to momentarily step into the darkness, if only to understand it better. But you can't steep yourself in the darkness for too long. The longer you believe the worst will happen, the more you are inviting that grim spectre into your life as an inevitability.
My advice to you, inspired by Dr. Seuss, is to take the things in your life that act as that yelling monster and say goodbye to them once and for all. If you aren't able to evade them, simply smile at them until they change their tune. The best weapon against a curmudgeon is often a disarming smile, even if you have to force it. On the worst days you'll feel like giving up, but never lose this fight.
In the case of Dr. Seuss vs. Donald Trump, I will let Dr. Seuss himself read the final verdict: "You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go."
(All quotes and pictures in this article are copyright of Dr. Seuss.)
(If you didn't notice, my blog has undergone a name change! The first title of this blog was chosen because I couldn't think of anything better and I always knew a better title would present itself eventually. This title dawned on me today, after seeing a notepad at Barnes & Noble that said "From the Ego of..." and I knew, then and there, that this was the perfect title for my blog. Thank you all so much for reading and be sure to reach out to me and interact. I appreciate you all so much.)