A toxic, evil swirl

To: The Evil Baton Passer

Yes, I’m borrowing the idea that evil is a relay race from Fiona Apple again; it’s too brilliant an observation to highlight in just one letter. I definitely think that good can also be passed from one to the next in relay race fashion – think “pay it forward” – it’s just not as novel or catchy an idea as when evil is the baton being passed.

I know this doesn’t fit with the sport imagery, but the idea of family or intellectual “trees” (as in “standing on the shoulders of giants”) just popped into my head as I thought about where you’re currently positioned in the evil passing relay. Obviously evil (as in the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nastiness, and callousness you so proudly wear like intertwined mantels draped about you) didn’t originate with you. You got it from the people you looked up to as a child, like your father, and from the people you watched ruthlessly take advantage of or crush others for sport and get away with it.

Thankfully, most of us are repelled by those behaviors. We want to steer clear of the people who enact them and enjoy them. If they are our elders, we vow never to become them.

But something in you was drawn to those characters, to those ways of being in the world, to those ways of making yourself feel more important, stronger, in control. I don’t believe you were born evil or that as a baby your destiny was set, but with the right (or very wrong) combination of nurture (environment, learning history) and nature (genetics, traits, predispositions) we got a POTUS who drew from some dozen or so family and “intellectual” evil inputs and transformed them into hundreds of thousands of evil outputs. It’s like there’s a knowable handful of genealogy lines pumping into Donald J. Trump, contributing to your “you-ness,” but rather than confining your evil influence to the usual familial and close-in contacts, we instead have an uncontrolled mass of lines spewing out underneath your name, making a mess of the chart and a mess of our country.

The other analogy for your evil that occurs to me is that of a cyclone. (I just checked to see if tornadoes might be a better way to go here, but their path of destruction is far more limited and their edges are quite a bit more defined so I’m sticking with cyclones.) If you’re curious to know the details of how cyclones form, here’s a nifty video complete with a too-soothing British male voice actor explaining it all: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-e&q=how+do+cyclones+form.

From what I’ve gathered, cyclones form over very still, very warm expanses of ocean. The water in this area evaporates and rises and as it does, the warm air cools and forms clouds that start rotating around a low pressure center (the eye of the storm) and the whole deal gets blown about by the prevailing global winds. Sometimes the storms just hang out over oceans, but (obviously) they pretty darn frequently come ashore and wreak havoc, both in the dramatic short-run and over the long haul, years after the original storm has dissipated (think rot, mold, entire low-lying neighborhoods rendered uninhabitable, unscrupulous opportunists who swoop in to peck away at what little remains, etc.).

Do you get how this cyclone analogy extends the family tree take? No? Ok, I’ll tell you. The cyclone idea evokes a massive low-pressure focal point (as in “when they go low, we go high”) that concentrates and fuels the wind’s (aka, the evil’s) destructive power. Additionally, it emphasizes the critical importance of the conditions needed for your brand of evil to take hold and the long-term damage wrought by it. The family tree analogy just can’t do all that heavy lifting, and I don’t actually think the idea that “evil is a relay sport” does it justice either. But a cyclone? – heck yeah.

May we be safe from the toxic, evil swirl our POTUS continues to spew.
May we be willing set conditions for compassion and justice to take hold instead.
May we get clear once and for all that racist, sexist cruelty is a sure sign of weakness – not strength.
May we accept that massive cleanup and repairs are necessary along with preventative measures the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Tracy Simpson

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