It is hard to imagine anything more annoying than Donald Trump with antibodies. If the world was not a COVID safe place before now, the thought of Trump with immunity is almost too much to handle. And it will happen. We can be certain of that. There is little doubt that his symptoms will be mild, that he will recover fairly quickly, and that the new antibody Trump will be unleashed upon the world.
That said, reaction to Donald and Melania Trump’s diagnosis was horrifying. The messages of hate, of those wishing for his suffering and for his death says a lot more about us than it does about him. No matter what our feelings towards the man, his wife or his hair are, there is little justification for doing so. No matter how we think he has handled the COVID pandemic in the United States he deserves none of that. Because no matter what we feel, Donald Trump is not Hitler, he is not a murderer and is not ruthless dictator. He is a democratically elected leader of the United States who has done things; Some good and some not good. We might not like him as a person, but then we don’t have to invite him to Sunday lunch, and we don’t have to send him a get-well soon card. But nor do we need to wish him a speedy and painful death.
My late grandmother was very dramatic. Anything that happened in her world was seen as a test of her martyrdom, a calling she had answered from way before I could remember. Her treatment of challenges from the death of a relative to her running out of eggs that she needed to make her homemade mayonnaise, her reaction was the same. She would shake her head knowingly, look towards the heavens and then almost inaudibly mumble, “these things are sent to try us.” Even as an adult I had no idea whether she is expected confirmation or disagreement, but was certain what I could not contribute to a conversation that was clearly between her and her God.
Donald Trump has been sent to try us.
We are drawn to the uncomplicated. And always have been. Our need for superheroes from a young age bares testimony to that. We prefer a world that is easily defined and easily divided into good and evil, and into light and dark. To a large extent we long for a world that unambiguously places us comfortably on the side of the good guys and where there is no doubting who the bad ones are. But no one is perfect, and no one is all good. Winston Churchill might have saved the world from the Nazi regime, but he was an imperfect as man can be. Nelson Mandela, arguably one of the greatest statemen of our generation made choices in his private life that showed him to be human. Despite his achievement. It is our childhood need for superheroes that is the problem, not the fact that people who do great things are no always great.
The challenge with Donald Trump is that he is not likable. His behavior is often strange, and it is hard to imagine wanting to be close to him. But that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t done positive and that he is all bad. Casting him in that role is as childish as it is turning anyone into Superman.
We have always known this in theory. Bill Clinton was a charismatic charmer but one who abused his power and took advantage of a young woman, in essence destroying his life. JFK was a good looking and personable man who was notoriously unfaithful. But they were given a free pass because we could delude ourselves into casting them in the role of the good guy. Trump doesn’t allow us to do that. He openly challenges our very notion of what we expect and want from a leader and in doing so we choose to ignore anything positive he has done in order to assuage our need for simplicity.
An antibody Trump is hard to imagine and will be unbearable to cope with. But I for one wish him and his family a speedy and complete recovery. Because indeed, these things are sent to try us.