By Kathy Hughes
My survival kit for enduring the next four years is not something I can assemble on my own. Instead, I am dependent on my fellow citizens to come to their senses, and there’s not much chance of that, I’m afraid.
First, a reality check — Donald Trump is president, and it would take a major upheaval to change that, only to result in Vice President Mike Pence taking over. I doubt that this is the change that will satisfy those who are unhappy with the status quo.
Second, I would require that the media would refrain from reacting to every petty tweet coming from the White House, and concentrate instead on reporting important news outside the gates of the presidential manor, along with truly relevant issues concerning the president and other governmental agents.
Beyond being trivial, hysterical reporting only makes the situation worse. Not only does it gratify Mr. Trump’s ego need — to be the center of attention — it also diverts attention away from more important issues. To be successful, those in opposition need to choose their battles carefully, as well as to employ the worst possible treatment towards an attention getter — ignoring them. Everyone, including the president needs to calm down. One side needs to avoid taking the bait, and the other to stop taking everything personally.
Arguments such as the recent back and forth over inauguration numbers are just one example — “Is too,” “Is not.” As for me, I say, “Who cares?” and “What difference does it make?” People are dying, disasters are happening and government actions are needed. Let’s get back to issues that matter. I am not optimistic about either of my survival criteria being met.
Another thing, and I consider this not to be tangential, but relevant: protests, marches and demonstrations. While these three words may be used to describe the same event, there are nuances that are useful for diplomatic communication. As every teacher knows, confrontation with an argumentative student inevitably results in escalation.
If you can bear with me, a protest implies more than opposition, but rather accusation and rejection. It is hostile and negative in the extreme. If you know (or remember) your Latin, you would be right in suspecting that this word has experienced an about face from its original meaning — “pro” means “for”, not against; “testere (-test)” is to testify. A protest in our times indicates anger, and is taken as a confrontation.
You probably know that March (the month) derives from “Mars,” the Roman god of war; yet, “a march“ derives not from Latin, but from a Germanic word meaning “to tramp underfoot,” which you will probably agree is somewhat militant.
My choice word is “demonstration,” which is from Latin: “de-” implying “entirely;” “monstrare,” is to point out, or to show. If the desired result is to gain President Trump’s ear and have him listen, then a demonstration could be the most effective.
Although all three nuances may be represented in the turnout for a “March on Washington,” someone needs to sit down next to the president and tell him, “these people just want you to listen, don’t ignore them. They have come to inform you, not to bury you.”
Just for consideration, since I can’t resist, the derivation of “trump” may be from the French, “tromper,” used to indicate “deception.” Caveat emptor — you are on your own for this one.