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Banish the Chaos -- At Least for a Little While

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In Greece, members of parliament come from dozens of political parties, varying on the spectrum from neo-fascists with logos eerily evocative of swastikas to Putin-sympathetic communists.

You might call it chaotic, with some seats occupied by fringe extremists and parties forced to align with those with whom they share only a loose approximation of agreement.

It has always been thus in Greece, though, where political chaos is a hallmark.

After all, it was the Classical Greeks who created ostracism, an annual vote taken on whether to banish a person from the city for 10 years. Ostracism could be dispensed for any reason -- even pure spite.

In one anecdote from Plutarch, a man says he wishes to ostracize Aristides the Just simply because he's sick of hearing him lauded.

Now, Donald Trump is no one's idea of just, but I'm finding myself longing for the chaos of ostracism lately, with the former president announcing he's going to run again in 2024.

I don't know if I can take another two years of mean-spirited pageantry and the further destruction of what remains of our national dignity. I don't know if I can take another assault on a free and fair election, one in which it is certain that Trump will declare victory, no matter the results.

I suppose it's not even so much Trump's running but his inescapable presence that bothers me.

Yes, it's disturbing that so many of my fellow countrymen live in the kind of cruel world Trump embodies, one in which ethics are for suckers, the weak are fodder for mockery and women are mere hunks of meat awaiting consumption.

But Trump's appeal reminds me of a poem by Greek poet Yannis Ritsos, "Smoked Earthen Pot," in which he corresponds with a fellow poet:

My brother sometime ago we were very proud

because we weren't confident at all

We said big words

we placed many gold stripe on the arm of our verse

a tall crown waved on the forehead of our song

we were noisy -- we were afraid and for this we were noisy

 

covering our fear with our voices

we pounded our heels on the sidewalk

long strides reverberating

like those in parades with empty cannons

Trumpian chest-thumping comes from a place of fear, clearly, but the fact of his constant, irritating presence in our discourse remains.

I'm comforted, a bit, by the knowledge that it was not so long ago that Trump lost a presidential election, handily, to the office's current occupier. Enough voters saw through Trump's bluster to the dangerously insecure man inside.

But there's always danger when you talk about Trump, a man who forcefully pushed the narrative -- one now commonly (if not privately) accepted as fact by almost the entire GOP -- that he won the last election, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

For yes, the cannons are now empty, but there's always the danger that, one day, he will fill them, as he did on Jan. 6, 2021, using the rage and fear of his followers as ammunition.

And although the cosplaying stupidity of Jan. 6 may seem little threat now, the boundaries of acceptable presidential behavior were moved that day somewhere to the right of "utter lawlessness."

So, I find myself thinking of the Classical Greeks, enviously, as people who very well may have been onto something with that whole ostracism thing.

I mean, if we're going to have the chaos, I'd like to at least have a way of getting a break from it.

The only problem is, I'm not sure 10 years will be long enough. Can we make it an even 20?

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To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

 

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