So, apparently, Donald Trump said this:
“Everntually, it’s not going to survive, just so you understand,” Trump says of the United States.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 15, 2016
Trump’s not wrong, but it’s an odd thing for a presidential candidate — especially a Republican presidential candidate to say.
And it prompts one of two responses.
The first is a contemplation — deep or passing — of the finiteness of creation, of the limits of human existence, and the impermanence of things. This is what I do when such a notion passes through my mind. That Washington, DC, will make splendid ruins. (It really will.) That doctoral students, or their moral equivalents, from future civilizations will have many centuries of work ahead of them going through our archives — tax records, receipts, military discharges, payroll and inventories, all the records that language was was invented to keep and that have survived even from the times of the Sumerians (because poetry, prose, and revelation are all unintended consequences of tax and business receipts) — and coming to some very interesting conclusions about who we are.
It is to look at our cities and wonder what will survive for future human beings to see. What of our laws and customs and culture will permeate the ages, in the way Babylon left its mark on the world with a 360 degree circle and Rome did with the months of July and August?
It is to wonder — what contribution does my small life, in this small corner of a tiny word spinning relentlessly around a yellow star, make to the ages? Who am I that I live and breathe and feel and, yes, wonder?
That’s one response to what Trump said.
The other, I think, is to go, “None of this matters in the long run. There is no reasonable future we can leave to anyone, so, you’d better get all you can while the getting is good.”
Nothing is permanent, we all die, so grab what you can now. Because the only measure of success, the only thing that matters, is getting, having, accumulating. That’s the only measure of winning that counts.
Which do you suppose Donald J. Trump, billionaire (alleged), likely feels?
I suspect it is not wonder.