Bob Schwartz

Trump just retweeted this image. Once again: Are we scared yet? Yet? If not now, when? And are we helpless to stop it?

Trump just retweeted the above image, which was tweeted by a crazy pro-Trump type. Pictured in jail, charged with treason, are special counsel Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former President Bill Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The first time I posted the question “Are we scared yet?” was on January 31, 2017, just a few weeks after Trump took office. I’ve asked it regularly since, most recently in June 2018, when CBS News was interviewing an ICE whistleblower at home, and government agents came knocking at the door in the middle of the interview. In truth, that question could be asked just about every day.

I try not to be unnecessarily negative, I am a reasonable person, and I am not paranoid. But I try to be realistic, I am a student of history, and I believe in America and in the rule of law.

Maybe you see where this regime is going, but don’t want to say it too loudly, so as not to panic your family, your friends, the economy and the market—or panic yourself. Maybe you see where this going and think that it doesn’t affect you, or that you will be alright, maybe even better off. Maybe you don’t see where this is going and are hoping for the best.

This is heading to a confrontation that we might find in history books or elsewhere in the world, but have never seen in America. As much faith as we have in our institutions, they have never been tested like this, and we haven’t seen the worst yet. Will we pass the test? We hope so. Should we be scared yet? Are we?

Maybe Myths Will Save Us

You can’t fight and eliminate myth. You can try. You can drive it away and banish it, but it will always turn up within the city walls. Because it is inside you and all the citizens.

When I began reading comic books, I didn’t know those stories were myths. When I first heard the stories of the Bible, I didn’t know those were myths. In the big world, something about these myths proved to be irresistibly and unstoppably popular. Comic book myths became an entertainment mega-industry. Religious myths laid the foundation for the beliefs of billions.

Enlightenment and modernism took on the task of demythologizing. That project has never been wholly successful. It is instead like whack-a-mole: bash one myth down and another will pop up. You may not recognize something as myth, but there it is. Bigger than life, embodying truths that defy everyday experience and evidence. Not only bigger, but more significant.

As the essayist Joan Didion wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Maybe instead of trying to stop telling ourselves stories, maybe instead of trying to loosen our embrace of myths (both impossible anyway), maybe we keep conscious of the myths, try to let go of the unhelpful ones, and try to choose better and more beneficial ones.