Friday, June 2, 2017
Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accord signifies much more than a step back from concern for scientifically-established climate change.
It represents leaving a crucial conversation.
His foolish decision leaves our country one of only three nations — the other two being Syria and Nicaragua — not participating in this dialogue.
In discussing the impact of Trump’s decision on our role in the international human family, I am extending a more humorous post I wrote a few days ago. You can find it here:
Trump has little or no interest in families–except his own, and they live like royalty. David Johnson, an investigative journalist who covered Trump for decades, validates this conclusion. In his NY Times bestselling book, The Making of Donald Trump, Johnson suggests the self-absorption is a longstanding character trait. He devotes the first three chapters to Trump’s family history, family values, and personal values, respectively. The biography offers insight into why Trump made decision about the Paris Climate Accord.
It documents the Trump family’s multi-generational propensity to lie and manipulate; it substantiates Trump’s astonishing degree of narcissism.
Trump’s decision to pull out from the Paris Accord is consistent with his need for personal power and his difficulty cooperating with others.
Thus far, many of Trump’s legislative proposals have failed: He has not successfully restricted immigration from countries with high levels of Muslim populations; he has not obtained funding to build a US-Mexico border wall; he has not repealed the Affordable Care Act. These actions are subject to the checks and balances of a liberal democracy.
From reading Trump’s tweets alone, anyone can tell his vehement dislike for these limits on his power.
Also, Trump seems puzzled by these failures. He lacks knowledge of how government works. Whereas he could push through many obstacles alone while running a real estate development company, Trump must work with others in government.
Unfortunately, he shows no capacity for teamwork.
In this realm, his behavior is remarkable consistent.
Many of his own advisers recommended against the Paris decision. His daughter, Ivanka, thought it a bad idea; Jared was “neutral;” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recommended we stay in the treaty. The major oil companies, including international behemoths like Exxon-Mobil, also thought the US would be better served by maintaining the agreement.
Like Trump’s pushing a fellow world leader to the side at the G7 meeting or insisting Mexico pay for a ridiculous border wall, Trump was able to make this power move all on his own. He could unilaterally decide to end our participation in one of the most successful international treaties in the history of the world.
And, he did.
It has been barely 24 hours since Trump made the announcement.
Listen as the shrieks of dismay within our country and around the world grow in intensity!
What does Trump’s move means in terms of the human family?
Before Kyoto, and since Paris, world leaders actively discussed the existential threat of climate change to the planet and the human species. Finally, after years of self-centered behavior on the part of our country and others, members of the human family engaged in meaningful dialogue. They set goals for reducing climate threatening pollution. They set goals for converting energy supplies from below-ground, limited sources to above-ground, renewable ones.
For once, instead of shooting artillery at one another or proposing walls of separation, the entire family, save a few, highly troubled outliers, joined the conversation.
Now, we join the ashamed ranks of the outliers.
After nearly four decades of practicing individual and couples psychotherapy, I can proclaim, with authority, the crucial importance of dialogue.
Persons tend enter couples therapy blaming one another; they tend to end it with insight into their contribution to the difficulties; most importantly, they leave much better equipped to talk about whatever troubles them. Whether they struggle with their children’s behaviors, their sex lives, or their financial difficulties, they end up able to talk, to converse, to dialogue.
Proposing universals is always risky.
Nonetheless, I believe, without qualification, dialogue helps.
I’ve seen it dramatically improve the capacity of many persons to relate to their partners; I’ve seen it ease the transition into separation for those fated to part.
I have also witnessed a number of couples in which one party’s incapacity to dialogue ends the relationship.
I vividly remember one couple in which the husband steadfastly insisted their difficulties were entirely the wife’s fault. They attempted dialogue for two years of weekly sessions in my office. Towards the end of that journey, the husband repeated his refrain of blame.
His wife left him.
Sadly, some persons simply cannot do it.
They cannot consider another’s point of view; they cannot clearly see their own. They often end up bitter and alone.
Perhaps you have some examples in your own family — an alienated uncle, a furious grandfather, an abusive cousin. You wished a bridge existed between you and the relative, but the construction fails. The parts prove defective. The structure cannot stand.
These painful situations will always exist.
But who would have guessed such a character would occupy the presidency?
Like occurs in the hypothetical families just described, the persons capable of dialogue usually carry on without the outlier. They converse. They gather. They form intimacies. And, perhaps from time to time, they try and get their strange relative to join them.
Several US states, like California, continue the global conversation. Validating the idiocy of Trump’s decision, it seems likely that France, China, and perhaps even Russia will lead the discussion now, initiating meetings and dialogues and building on the Paris and other international agreements.
How sad our own president — the man representing all of America — chooses the role of the weird uncle, the crazy grandfather, the idiot cousin.
As he descends towards the aloneness and bitterness certainly awaiting him, we can, at least, continue the conversation.
Johnson, D.C. (2016). The making of Donald Trump. New York: Melville House.
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