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Paul Delaroche: Napoléon abdicating in Fontainebleau, 1845
"Nobody ever rides anywhere worth going to on the back of grudges fueled by ThePetulences."

We're each and all heading in the same direction. Lowly and highborn, professional and gig, smart and stupid, born equal and perhaps steadily heading downhill thereafter. If circumstances don't get us, time certainly will. The devout contend that we're heading for a better life following this one, sure and certain of ample reward for whatever humiliation life heaps upon them. All will be humbled, though the humiliation part seems entirely optional. Some become powerful, after a fashion, though none ever powerful enough to make good on any delusion about what that power might purchase. Most learn that power carries a counterbalancing powerlessness, with only ThePetulences ever bringing the two into balance. One might pretend so convincingly as to convince them self, less frequently someone else, rarely a majority. The positioning matters, since the nonbelievers can natter even noble intentions to shreds. It generally behooves anyone wielding power to handle it with greater care than their charter implies they might, for asserted might naturally translates into neither right nor acceptable. Power either humbles or humiliates. An absent humility guarantees eventual humiliation.

Not everyone gifted with authority seems to understand the humility it demands of them, or prove capable of providing it.
The falls from grace and high places never seem to apply to them until they do, and inexorably. We have been blessed with a post-modern example of this convection, one filled with more than the standard ration of invective. It's not entirely rare than anyone rises to great power on the back of whining complaints, for many too easily identify with such antics. Most will have gotten over their existential abhorrences by the age of four or so, but a few imprint more deeply and come to believe themselves the product of all they were never given rather than what they'd received. Seeing themselves on the short end, they seek revenge, as if that payout might somehow balance poorly crafted books. Their glass is neither half full nor half empty, but to their mind, non-existent, somehow denied them, and they're preternaturally thirsty, thirster than any draught could ever satisfy, lending a certain persistent underlying desperation in their presence and in their presentations. They seek to get even.

Our President, gratefully very soon to be an ex-, personified the very worst of ThePetulences, grievances defining his heritage and overshadowing his legacy, whatever that might turn out to be. He justly deserved his irrelevance. He could apparently inflame great passion, but only around issues of little consequence, and wield power to generally make whatever he attempted to improve immeasurably worse for his attempts to improve them. I report no mere difference of opinion or perspective, this guy was ninety-nine and ninety-five one hundredths percent petulance, a countenance unworthy of any office, very much less The President's. The most powerful man in the world spent his power digging useless ditches, creating swamps where none before existed. He daily demonstrated a persistent pettiness in everything with which he engaged, from insisting upon ridiculous non-disclosure agreements to prosecuting only those who deigned to commit a truth, especially of the public variety. He mocked those without defenses and defensively shocked when deflecting personal blame. He never once stood up for anything of consequence and so degraded his office and himself to several levels beneath contempt.

The greatest danger ThePetulences bring comes from this constant and continual degrading. Folks might come to see that even liberty simply must degrade something or someone, that freedom means subjugating another for no reason other than that you possess the political power to accomplish it. The generous complement shows weakness then, rather than the presence of a greater wisdom. All becomes reduced to mammon, show and fanfare, headline news with no illuminating following story. The plot line thins into impure speculations. If one insists upon declaring them self the cause, he ends up owning every effect. A circumspection becomes defining, always another excuse for ever more vehement whining with never any sense of owning any responsibility. If nothing's your fault, everything properly gets blamed on you. We see right through your veil, you end up pants-less and abdicating. Good riddance will be the best pension you receive for your so-called services to society. You may take your grunginess and start HeadingHomeward, wherever that might be; probably in exile, hopefully.

I have felt proud of my own accomplishments, typically just before a downturn in my prospects, sometimes before a genuine fall. I began my climb perhaps already humbled, for my parents raised me for humility rather than pride. When I encountered opportunities to feel proud, it proved an alienating experience. I knew not how to respond. I ducked my head and gave an authentic, "Oh, gosh," no false humility needed. I've watched leaders throughout my life, and I've noticed a certain congruence shared among the better ones. The worst carried palpable defensive grudges and seemed bound and determined to get even with something, perhaps some serious psychological shortcoming. The better seemed to acknowledge that we're all and each simply HeadingHomeward, similar destinations in mind, and they dedicated themselves to somehow easing the passage. They stood down and perhaps slightly to one side while wielding their swift swords, however terrible. They used their power not to polish their grudges to sparkling shininess, but to set them aside and leave them far behind. Nobody ever rides anywhere worth going to on the back of grudges fueled by ThePetulences. Nobody. Ever.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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