THE BLOG
09/29/2016 04:10 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2017

Close to Rome as the Country Gets Ready to Watch: The Right to Be Scared

Well, it's true. I'm close to Rome in that I'm in Lucca, in that I'm in Italy. And I'm close to home, in that I'll be in Colorado tomorrow evening, in time for the presentation at the American Colosseum (metaphorically speaking), which in this case will be the uber attended, anxiously awaited and rehearsed, and media success of prime time. This would be the Presidential Debate, between you know who.

I have to say I'm really nervous. I write about the shadows and can get into the idea and feeling of hate, and even violence. But I don't want to go there at the moment. It feels too serious, not really the time to play with feelings of violence. And I am beyond scared of a Donald Trump win. As such I'm beyond scared of any slip-up on Hillary Clinton's part during the you know, tomorrow night. I'm one of the hopeless ones not interested at this point in what they say because nothing Trump could say would erase my impression of him as untruthful to the point that everything he says is up for question and grabs. 

The taste for violence, as in the gore of a bullfight or the gore of thousands watching in a Roman colosseum as people tear each other's guts out--what can I say. I'm just not in the mood. The mood is broken by things seeming too serious, too consequential, too dangerous. And also too sad.

The police killing in North Carolina had me in disbelief when I realize it's become too common to be unbelievable to so many. It had me shaken, seeing the video and seeing a woman cry out to the police to not kill. I don't want to politicize it (in terms of cheapening it) but that's already being done, and perhaps it's inevitable. I have to say I fear for the mood of the country, so much with a Trump win because he inspires hate, and has lots to spare for extra topping. I worry with any President, because I see the fever pitch of opposing sides, and I see the atmosphere more and more closed to real consideration of real problems.

We seem scared as a country to say sorry. And I don't mean that as the little kid wants to erase all misgivings with one "Sorry". I mean the benefit to the human spirit and to life on the planet that comes with taking responsibility for past errors and even crimes, and with repairing damage as best we can. We go into the space of other countries and invade them, we allow our own neighborhoods to become the "hood" with the infusion of drugs into them. We have police going in with hate and fear to begin with, with no real training either of cops or of community with cops to get to know each other better, with the necessary outcome that they have alternatives. And what is happening is that rather than face complex emotions and outcomes and causes, we have people among us giving us the drugs of reality television, which as become the new decider of how things will go for eons to come. Global rehab is coming to mind, though I haven't worked out logistics yet.

I Skyped with my good friend in Connecticut while I was in the midst of these fears rising. She's scared too and doesn't know if she is going to watch. But her reasons are different. She feels it's going to be an entertainment event; "watching will only detract from the seriousness of what's at stake."

She asked me why I'm afraid. I'm afraid that mortal damage might happen. She said she thinks he will be an ass, and that he'll make a mockery of it. She said Hillary couldn't take anything Trump will say seriously. He won't make her look bad, just himself. I'm not sure.

Which brings me back to Rome, and to Pula in Croatia and to Split where they have spectacular remnants of the Diocletian Palace. And this year I did wonder about our awe of colosseums, how impressed we are by the sturdiness of the ruins, and how perhaps we ignore the kind of entertainment that involved watching the kill.

Bella says (it's Italian and a name so here it is) Trump craves the limelight. So what does that make us, if she is right. That would make us a pawn in his game. Bella says he is like a bratty kid who needs attention and acts out his fundamental insecurity and need to bully; I agree.
He is on a power trip, and somehow--this is me--we have agreed to enable him. We have agreed to put him on late night television and ignore the fact that he is pretty openly fascistic in tendencies. This is a man who craves attention and will take any kind he can get: this is desperation and we have made it appealing.

I start to feel a tad better as I ponder my fear, and feel it as a weapon against hate, as I feel its sobering effect. Fear tends to arouse shame, but that can be a mistake. Sometimes fear is a signal of something dangerous. And in thinking/talking about the you know what tomorrow night, I am sensing it might be dignifying to take seriously the fear of a spectacle where the stakes are so high, and the intention on some parts is to do fatal harm.

I tend to be averse to affirmations, especially the ones that have too much fluff for my taste. I have been against, for example, "Be the change you want to see in the world." But I think it's time to realize I'm not against it after all. It seems the best, and for me perhaps only, option.