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  • by Kenneth Kern


Consider this:

Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.

Rosencrantz: Then the world is one.

Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being

one o’ the worst.

Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.

Hamlet: Why then, ‘tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

This is true for times as well as things. The troubled prince could have observed, “no times are good or bad, but thinking makes them so.” Which brings us to the present.

The signature state in the age of Trump is not Alabama. It is mild depression accompanied by self-pity.

Known to me and now perhaps to you as MDSP, this condition is currently indulged by America’s conservatives and liberals alike. Wealthy, poor, urban, rural, white and non-, men, women and rather-not-say-or-really-not-sure,all wallow in MDSP like contentedly unhappy pigs in bio-degradable waste. The cause of the distress is the nearly universal opinion that the nation is headed in the wrong direction, and the fault lies not in our stars, but in the “other” Americans. That is to say, ourselves.

Alas, there’s not much to be done to enlighten the wrong-headed, and thus save the nation. If they were capable of learning, they’d already have learned. If they could understand the error of their ways, they wouldn’t have made it. They are here to stay, just as they are. In a couple of years, again they will vote. In the meantime they are free to be what they are, and to make their presence known, and so, perhaps metaphorically, “now we are engaged in a great civil war”.

The likelihood is that since you are reading in your free time, you’re among those Americans who believe Mr. Trump’s election assures America’s path to the future runs steeply downhill. Among us, a touch or more of MDSP is completely understandable. So may I suggest, in those dark moments when things couldn’t possibly turn for the worse, remember Hamlet. Remind yourself that nothing’s really good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Remember Dickens referring to the era of the French Revolution during which the “government” executed as many as 40,000 people as “the best of times [and] the worst of times”. Then think about Phaedrus.

Phaedrus was a Roman fabulist. (He wrote fables.) Phaedrus lived from 15 BC to 50 BC, a lifetime that endured the consecutive reigns of Tiberius and Caligula. Go ahead and compare Trump and Jared Kushner to Tiberius and Caligula. Note that our next president almost certainly will not be Jared Kushner, and it absolutely won’t be Tiberius or Caligula. Then, rejoice America! The good times are here!

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