“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Where sparks are flashed from the nail upon flint, or where barbs are thrown into the un-armored parts, the observer who is desirous of gleaning some possible lesson or useful knowledge will find it; in the present moment as well as the run-up and the follow-up. Isolating truth and spiritual wisdom from illusions and deception, however, can be challenging. Guidance from a transcendent viewpoint can provide clarity and integrate the initially isolated currents of energy into a coherent manifestation. Watch for the flash of insight.
Enter the recent Republican debate; “the Donald”, Ralph Waldo Emerson and “the bear” courtesy William James.
Politics aside, Donald Trump is nearly inescapable in the current news cycle. Love him, hate him, admire him, or discount him and the entire, related cacophony. The latter however, like a $2 bet you walk away from at the roulette wheel at one of his casinos, might generate a pay-off… of significant, intellectual value.
Might Ralph Waldo Emerson suggest the emulation of one Donald Trump? Are there principles that may be illuminated from a man described as an arrogant, rancorous unprincipled narcissist? Might a dispassionate, arm’s length observation help reveal a redeeming return? “Safer to be attacked rather than lauded” said Emerson.
Does this sound like the MO of one Donald Trump? Wisdom is a sword which cuts in all ways it might be swung. It is not contingent upon intent or context. This from Emerson: “I hate to be defended (in a newspaper). As long as all that is said is said against me, I feel a certain assurance of success. But as soon as honeyed words of praise are spoken of me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies” Like Trump, Emerson was accustomed to being assailed by the media, critics, clergy and pundits of his period.
Clearly, Trump is not only comfortable being attacked but such attacks likely affirm to him the proper tact. Does he study Emerson? Even if it is from a 180 degree perspective from which Emerson was coming from, there is a flash of wisdom in the dangers of being lauded, regardless the reason. “A great man is always willing to be little.” said Emerson.
This does not infer that he shall be at a whim or continually. But always at the right time. The wise time. Emerson’s position was that size matters; and being the biggest is not always if ever, the best, when it came to dealing with aspects of exposure, notoriety or stature. At the same time, man’s soul was as grand as the universe; intertwined in beauty and unity with God. Can the narcissist be humble? Can humility and brash ego be integrated?
“Picked, plucked or stuffed” is what often happens to the “lauded”. The pretty, the colorful, the promising and prophetic… and lions named Cecil. Though the “bear” of James’ was nameless, it is highly probable Mr. Trump knows of it.
Psychologist and philosopher William James’ bear theory, in it’s simplest form, posed both a question and an answer. Do you run from the bear because you fear it? Or, do you fear the bear because you run from it? James stated that the obvious answer; we run because we are afraid, was a faulty understanding of how human emotions work. Instead, he argued that we are afraid because we run. (He was not implying that you should not run from the bear!) There is insight here regarding the human response to excitation that the reader may glean with a little contemplation and reflection. Mr. Trump might do well to also reap a few pointers from Ralph Waldo. But that is only if he is able to overcome the fear of being picked, plucked or stuffed like a Cecil…. Or chased by James’ bear.
Napoleon Hill referenced Emerson’s essay on Compensation when he stated that “It is an unvarying law that strength grows out of resistance.” In Emerson’s words:
“Our strength grows from our weakness
Not until we are pricked and stung and sorely shot at
Awakens the indignation which arms itself with secret forces.”
For some the path to freedom is seen in the form of stature and strength through the weathering of attack and struggle.
The current political coarseness and bluster can move the collective consciousness to grasp the message synthesized from the writings of R. H. Conwell; known for his classic Aces of Diamonds and his lessor known Every Man His Own University: More than ever “a great and pressing need to debestialize and emancipate the intellect. -To foster and free the instinct of individuality.”
To attract and gain the independent thinkers; the emergent uberennial class who value non-traditional choices but also prioritize sustainability, harmony and authentic engagement, Mr. Trump might elect to apply his voracious reading appetite to the essays of Messrs. Emerson, James, Hill and Conwell. And grow more aware of his “true and present bear.”
“The measure of a man may be taken very accurately by the extent to which he adapts himself to his environment and makes it his business to accept responsibility for every adversity by which he meets…” But for a man as Emerson to moderate a debate for the people, you ponder?
If only that ‘gleam of light‘ might flash across the collective consciousness; reflected upon the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln as he proclaimed that “…the mystic chords of memory… will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surly as they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Our True and Present Nature.