Paying Attention
Bill McDonald’s Website Newsletter
August 2020 - Volume 20, No. 8
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“Be Kind. Always.”

The other day (July 21) was Robin Williams’ birthday. He would have been already 69. Of course he died too young. And in another week or so (August 11), that would have been six years ago.

His name showed up somewhere on line - along with this quote:

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

All around there’s noise. Some of it’s voices - working to set us apart from each other. Redress of grievances so easily slips over to the ease of a ‘snuff.’

Our President calls all protesters who disagree with him “terrorists.”
And it seems, at least by virtue of behavior, some probably are (my intuition might estimate 12% of those marching out there). But his peculiar mental calculus and power propensity can easily bunch them all together - ‘get rid of them, wipe them all out, lock ‘em up’.

How many in Portland’s nightly “Walls of Moms” does it take every night to protect protesters from ‘terrorists’?  It’s not that easy, Donald.

Enter his niece, Mary L. Trump

Just last month, her “tell all” book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” was published. Reportedly one million copies were sold on the day of it’s release. She writes from within the toxicity of her family, and with the clinical eye of a practicing psychologist as well.

She speaks my own professional language, and essentially validates what I’ve seen in this man since he entered our national political scene. In the field of family therapy, the necessity of speaking truth to power can sometimes be a delicate and treacherous path. And it’s easy to understand why he’s so emotionally attractive. I remember from my undergraduate days (many years ago now) late night dorm discussions about whether Adolf Hitler would fit under the definition of a “charismatic” leader.[1]

I also think of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”[2]

Mary Trump writes that for a long time she felt “compassion” for her uncle. This is a frequent underpinning in narcissistic paradigms.

Today news photos more frequently portray our President as a lonely broken man. And I sense is this is not just editorializing.

Should we “be kind” to Donald Trump? / to Hannibal Lecter?

I’m sure that much national “kindness” toward him has been simple political expediency. He has been a master of the political art (“deal”). Yes, he has charisma. And he loves to destroy. A winning combination in the Trump universe.

I’ve long been curiously attracted to the 1991 thriller movie “The Silence of the Lambs.” Perhaps it’s time for me to revisit that movie, or finally now read the book. To have such a purely evil ability as a Hannibal Lecter.

I could be tempted to wish him killed - but I personally don’t believe in capital punishment. Rather, I could allow myself to be fascinated, but to always have an airtight guarantee that nobody will ever let him escape that cage.

This is probably a glimpse into the mind and courage of the President’s niece, Mary.[3]

Two more Gentle Voices

We remember that after George Floyd was slowly murdered on May 25 by police office Derek Chauvin as thousands unwittingly watched. And for a number of days following we were privileged to hear hour after hour of witness to the quiet gentleness of this man.

And then on July17, the legendary yet quiet spoken civil rights leader and long-time Georgia Representative John Lewis died. It seemed his funeral cortege went on for days - it just wouldn’t stop.  So many were the places and people that hungered to celebrate his memory and witness.

Perhaps we ourselves can still learn to grow up, to allow our souls to be honed, tempered and matured by those who would lead us on that quiet road of power that can still lead to kindness, gentleness, goodness.

And with Robin Williams (and a host of others), remember,

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

May your road lead you to such inspiration. Keep your eyes and ears and soul open.

The world hungers for just such as these.

Pay Attention.


[1] Of course that was only16 years after Hitler’s death. Today the answer would be much less problematic. We’d decide ‘yes’ and then dismiss the issue. To our peril.

[2] These days we’d probably have had the child drugged or permanently hospitalized, (or maybe just beaten) so that his voice would be forever silenced.

[3] (And perhaps also revisit Jody Foster’s portrayal of Clarise Starling.)

Afterword: (from an op-ed written by John Lewis to be shared after his funeral)
“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

Comments (3)

  • Sad.

    I used to really enjoy reading your commentary. Please don’t ruin it by turning out like the rest of the mainstream media. Among other things, calling the President of the United Stars of America is disrespectful and doesn’t go anywhere towards solving problems. I could go on, but then I’d probably sound just like you do. It seems like we’re heading for a civil war.

    — Sue, 8/4/2020
  • We cannot turn people “around”. That’s Bill’s job? Whirling Dervish Counseling Services, LLC. Freedom of expression was wrested from the British crown when my ancestors revolted. The press, the media we call them today, all assured freedom of expression – as you and I are responding with comments. I don’t read Bill’s Pay Attention to have my viewpoint/s affirmed. I read to be challenged. Thank you Bill. Thank you Sue for your comment, I suggest just keep on reading.

    — Cynthia, 8/6/2020
  • Always love reading your posts. I hope you’re doing great.

    — Ashleigh, 8/7/2020

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Bill McDonald
Fenton, Michigan

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