I understand the frustration that led many people to vote for Trump because they wanted to ‘shake up the system’ and have someone in the White House who would ‘tell it like it is’. One analogy I’ve seen is “You gotta crack a few eggs in order to make an omelet.” I get the sentiment, I’m not sure about the analogy.
I mean, an omelet is a single serving meal consumed immediately, forgotten immediately, and has the staying power of maybe about 12 hours while it provides the body with nutrients. That’s it, that’s all you get from ‘cracking eggs’, ‘telling like it is,’ or ‘shaking things up.’
You see, democracies embrace brotherhood and equality rather than selfish, single, one time moments. They profoundly affect world events for centuries. They foster culture and progress with eternal benefits.
They are more like trees which provide a home and protection to many creatures – without prejudice. They provide oxygen for us to breathe and consume our carbon dioxide in return, profoundly affecting our environment. Some dominate entire ecosystems with eternal benefits.
Democracy is as impressive as a thousand-year-old Sequoia Redwood. It is as finicky as a ficus tree. Democracy can be as hearty as a Valley Oak, or as delicate as a Japanese Maple. It goes through cycles of drought and flood, winter and summer, naked or in full bloom, yet it continues to grow, reach, progress, just as a tree does.
It’s true that trimming and pruning are beneficial, democracies as well as trees can lose their shape or become gangly if they aren’t regularly clipped. But there’s a difference between careful, thoughtful pruning and lopping off the entire tree at the trunk hoping the plant can regenerate itself – it seems like that’s what’s happened with the ‘cracking a few eggs’ strategy and now we wait to see if it dies during this winter or sprouts again next spring.
If we adopt the comparison of our democracy to a tree, we can understand some of our current dynamics better, I think. It takes patience to nurture a democracy. Growth does not occur overnight and in the current age of Ista- everything, it can seem frustrating to have to wait. It requires discipline to take care of our Democracy, just as it takes discipline to care for some trees. It must be watered, for us that means voting regularly. It must be pruned for even growth and bigger fruit, that means looking for waste that is robbing us of growth and fruit bearing. It must be nurtured with thoughtfulness, one eye on the past to find the lessons, one eye on the future to project our goals. It must be fertilized with diversity, free speech, and equal opportunities. It must be protected against those who would cut it down for the sake of building their own personal mansion.
I understand the frustration, I don’t buy the analogy. Democracies are fragile, living institutions, they must be cared for, not shaken. Tended instead of cracked.
photos courtesy of eggs.ca and national geographic, respectively