It was not until I read Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score that I began to consciously make some of the connections that had been swirling in my head for years. Van Der Kolk makes the clinical and scientific case that our bodies and our brains are deeply altered by trauma. He goes as far as suggesting that childhood trauma “is “arguably the greatest threat to our national well-being,” an assessment I’ve come to agree with.
Some time late summer or early fall of 2015, I remember tweeting my lament that the media kept giving Donald Trump so much attention. It was essentially my belief that he wasn’t a serious candidate, that this was all a big game to him, and that the primary season would show that. How could everyone else not see that? After all, those who are labeled as early front runners often don’t win. Around that same time, I also wrote a blog post — motivated by a kind of realpolitik instinct — that predicted that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would cruise to their respective Republican and Democratic nominations. I thought those two individuals, more than any others in the race, had the names, history, money, and power to move convincingly toward the White House.
I am grateful that Front Porch Republic (“Place. Limits. Liberty.”) has published an essay of mine. This particular meditation shares an experience I had in graduate school with a class called “Men and Masculinity.” As you can imagine, I then do my best to broach relationships between men and women, essentially arguing that men are too often not taken seriously enough. I also dive into Men’s Rights Activists a little bit. Have you heard of that movement?
“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” ~Dr./Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam–A Time to Break the Silence”
In wrestling with Philip Roth’s 1998, Pulitzer-prize winning novel, American Pastoral, it is useful to remember that the book’s narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, offered a kind of disclaimer to his story: “The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.”