Disgrace and Grace
You’ve probably noticed that one of Donald’s go-to words is “disgrace.” Anything that he does not like is a “disgrace” — the Kavanagh hearings, the debates, the 60 Minutes interview, the Obama administration, etc. I don’t think his constant use of the word is by chance or solely due to the paucity of his vocabulary. As I consider all of the pejorative adjectives that apply to Donald — crass, vulgar, stupid, cruel — the characteristic that strikes me most is his lack of grace. In his movements, his mannerisms, his vocal tones and his language, there is a stunning absence of grace. It is disturbing.
Grace is an elusive, hard-to-define quality, but it is one essential to the human experience. We witness grace in the animal world — in a deer as she leaps over a stream, in a white crane as he unfolds his wings, poised to fly. A tai chi teacher once told me that time plus practice equals mastery. He gave the class the example of a woman high up the face of a skyscraper, navigating a giant squeegee across the dimmed windows of an office building. There in the hanging bucket, we see moves of such perfect, aquiline grace — the arms reaching down and extending out in smooth, sweeping arcs across the panes of glass. Time plus experience equals mastery. Equals grace.
As we watch Donald speak and interface with the world, we see only hideous clash and ugliness. We see dis-grace: the absence of grace. He lumbers. He grimaces and strains. He winces, his voice pitching high and aggrieved. Donald appears scorned by the gods, exiled and distant from their divine grace. Grace unites us to the nonhuman animals, to the elements and to the eternal. It is October, you may walk outside today and see fallen leaves swirl an eddy on the pavement in front of you as you walk. This, too, is grace.
In “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” John Keats famously concludes,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
When I read those lines in high school, they confused me. I did not agree with them. I thought truth was what happened in reality. If I eat a cookie for breakfast, that is truth. If a car crashes into a lamp post in front of the school, that is truth. It was only as I grew older that I began to understand a different meaning of the word. Truth is that which resonates with our deeper selves. The crime of deception is that it interferes with our ability to connect with the divine. A good tale is a lie that tells that other, deeper truth about who we are and why it is that we are here.
The avalanche of lies that defines the authoritarian and the fascist violates truth on all levels and severs our chance of connection to the eternal and to the beautiful. It is no wonder that Donald appears as an object lesson in “disgrace,” in the oafish. He has forged himself in deception and he lives by it on a daily basis. The dream of the broken man and the fascist is to pull others down with them into their burning world, far from the embrace of beauty, kindness and grace. That is what we must never permit.
DH, 10/ 26/2020