Justice, Politics & the Ego: Smiling through the Apocalypse

Departure of the Joads, from the Grapes of Wrath (by John Steinbeck), Thomas Hart Benton, Artist

 by LJ Frank

*In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage – Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck 

What matters?


Regardless in how I wanted to approach the subject matter of today’s events a bitter taste was coughed up from my throat. Like wine that had turned to vinegar. Reflections bit down on the lip of my compassion. Ideas floundered from indigestion. Vandalism was a crude effect.

Too much disinformation in the media that didn’t really question a man known to be a con artist, from the beginning. How many people were paying serious attention?

It’s about money. The media made a lot of money from the stories about him. The guy running for the highest office knew it. He loved the limelight. Money was and is his life, down to that last dollar, fifty-cent piece, quarter, dime, nickel, penny and deutsche mark. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s means little except to those who wish to play the emperor, king, prime minister, president…or dictator.

There’s a circumstantial literacy that appears to be occurring or as the Buffalo Springfield sang in For what it’s Worth, No body’s right, if everybody’s wrong. His framework depended on the loser winner loop like a song that plays endlessly. Repetition.

So, I write here, of pieces of conversation heard and in which I participated in legislative halls, prayer breakfasts, airport lounges, brick alleyways, wine and olive oil tastings, and ending with an attached postscript conversation with a colleague sitting at a bar next to a dock and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

No matter which way something is examined, metaphorically or pragmatically, evidence is essential, as is context, and intent, when seeking the truth of a given matter. For example, an agreed upon jury (of peers) is selected by both prosecution and defense…… and in turn that jury finds (decides) a defendant innocent or guilty. That jury is not up for a vote. An appeal of the verdict may be made. The jury system is essential to democracy.

But we know that polarization and induced chaos can outstrip truth. There are no alternative truths in life. Does it matter to the believer, the follower? No. We also know that memories are created in absence of an actuality. We know words matter.

Words can effectuate violence from coups to murder to individual death threats and treason……… suicides may happen with others by the man’s existence, but they are losers in the man’s eyes as are soldiers who die for their country. With him and his follower’s free speech is used to destroy free speech…… Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic. They are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect and after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all – Viktor Klemperer’s observation of Nazism.

When a discussion turns to who we define as disposable, we run into problems. Immunity for a ruler is very dangerous precedent and conflicts with the Constitution at least in the United States.

It’s not constitutionally normal or ethical or politically healthy for a democracy to a allow a convicted felon and an adjudicated rapist to hold the highest office in the country that calls itself a democratic republic and a symbol for the highest of ethics and values or has that changed? It appears so as of this writing. But isn’t it odd we have arrived at a stage where a convicted felon can’t carry a gun, though if elected president, he’s in control of a nuclear arsenal?

What is the correlation between power, emotional stability, and ego?

Who owns whom is a popular topic among a few people in the Senate, Congress and a score of state offices. On the other hand, how does one define leverage? It’s my body, my uterus, my penis, my heart, and my mind, my thoughts. I did not willingly hand that right (ownership) over to a politician.

Is the US Constitution grounded on quicksand? Will we remain a nation of laws? Will America survive or was the nail pounded into the coffin of the republic the moment a so-called strong man was elected to office, where the lie became the truth and the truth a lie?

If truth matters, why does a politician in either party fear questioning the Supreme Court and the ethics of the justices? Is it a matter of too much dark money and too deep of pockets ……certain justices are answerable only to the wealthy…… should we recall what Justice David Souter said about the Gore /Bush decision?  Is the legitimacy and an unbiased Supreme Court of the United States open to question…. What are we thinking? 

Unless the electoral college is abolished and all votes are counted then democracy may inevitably gerrymander and find it attending its own wake or vigil…… To not trust anyone is to destroy humanity.

If the rich pay less taxes that means I pay more……. Law, order and socialism for the wealthiest and capitalism for everyone else.

The polarization will last a lifetime. If government is the problem, why not compassionately repair it, rather than allow the wealthy to cultivate their greed……. Laissez faire works to whose benefit? What about the person who is unable to help them self……… why are the wheelchairs of the body served up as wheelchairs of the mind? What about Universal Basic Income for all?

Postscript: A slice of a conversation with colleague in a bar overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Are we approaching it.

Approaching what? I asked.

The end times of the current version of humanity.

How much financial self-preservation for the sake of the ego is needed versus country and planet?

And so?

Smiling through the apocalypse?

Have you thought about death?

Yeah. Shakespeare in his work, The Tragedy of Cymbeline, called death the sure physician.


My intent was/is to walk naked on a Lake Huron or Lake Michigan beach and die naked on the beach……


We have dreams, hallucinations, extraordinary mind’s eye type experiences, wishful thinking, imaginative and thought-provoking observations including reincarnation to resurrection, curiosity about different dimensions and the existential query of not knowing with absolute certainty except for a leap of faith (to make a leap of faith in the face of the absurd as the philosopher Kierkegaard would suggest). I don’t know what happens except my flesh and bones turn to dust over time. One question I suppose is whether it’s all vanity or futility as the author of Ecclesiastes suggests.

God’s activity in history?

It turns out to be that of man’s activity. The American theologian Jonathan Edwards while writing Freedom of the Will, pondered……what did God have on his mind in the very beginning? At what stage in human evolution did humans see themselves as conscious beings with a conscience and developing the idea of the numinous? Self-disclosure requires courage and compassion. Things can get rather existential…… will artificial intelligence eventually be programmed with emotion and reason sufficient enough to be thought as having a machine-based soul? If humans and machines merge, will we rethink the word soul?

*The Grapes of Wrath for me is a metaphor for all people who struggle during times of upheaval and must migrate to another place….and the social changes they incurred…..and the need for compassion for all humanity…… to be fair and just.