You remember Viola Swamp, don’t you? She is the character from that book you read in Kindergarten and First Grade, Miss Nelson is Missing. She is the antagonist who appears when the children in Miss Nelson’s class misbehave so badly that sweet Miss Nelson has to take serious measures. Her measures are to dress up as Viola Swamp and get those kids to take their studies seriously. “She was a real witch,” the book exclaims.
I would posit that the American Experiment is behaving like Miss Nelson’s class was—making faces, throwing spitballs at the ceiling, even rude during Story Hour. There is a collective need of the lazy to have things done for us, there is a collective greed to want so many things that our houses are full of junk and we support the faceless corporations whose only thought is to sell us that junk to enhance their bottom line, not the quality and heart that goes into good product, there is collective racism to keep the blacks and women and LGBTQ’s down “where they belong”. Like Miss Nelson’s class we want it all our own way and are unwilling to look into our own souls to rectify anything that doesn’t immediately serve us, we think.
Trump is our Viola Swamp because through his negative role modelling, he is showing us what we have become–the ugliest side of our karmic shallowness. Which is a reminder of what the Buddhist leader Nichiren Daishonin said in 1260, “When a nation becomes disordered, it is the spirits that first show signs of rampancy. Because the spirits become rampant, all the people of the nation become disordered.”
But thanks to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and capitalists wildly overplaying their hand, the American Experiment has never been so awakened. Look at what has happened while Trump has been in office: the rise of the progressive agenda, the commitment to issues that most Americans believe in but he has vowed to kill for special interests once and for all (action on global warming and the environment, action on LGBTQ, action on women’s rights, action on this society’s ingrained racism, action on universal health care, a government that works for the people, voter apathy, use of the military for power only, the list goes on.)
“Nichiren Daishonin teaches that the direction of a nation is decided by its people and people are governed by their beliefs. Therefore, the beliefs that guide people’s actions will decide the course of society. The basis of society, he emphasized, does not lie in its political structure, but in the beliefs people hold in their hearts,” ( July Living Buddhism page 6). True in medieval Japan, truer today.
Through Swamp/Trump we are starting to understand what is in our hearts. What WE feel this nation was (or should have been) built on. We have gotten off our sofa to protest, wear masks to keep others safe, raise money for progressive causes. If you were to write a children’s book about it, you would see that Trump/Swamp hasn’t missed ONE aspect of who we are and what we are realizing is important to us as a nation, a people.
And more than ever, Biden is not a candidate, but an action, that we the people take, to address the things we feel are wrong.
It is too bad for poor Donald Trump, that to be as effective a Viola Swamp as he can be for America, he can’t also be Miss Nelson. But his Viola, is exactly what we needed.