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A Man Without Honor

The irony of a man who only sees price tags being a price tag to the people making a cottage industry of being appalled by him, is rich.

Take his power away by not giving him the oxygen of any attention other than what is absolutely necessary.(Photo: AFP/Timothy A. Clary)

"Take his power away by not giving him the oxygen of any attention other than what is absolutely necessary." (Photo: AFP/Timothy A. Clary)

As I watched and listened to Emmanuel Macron speak to the US congress while being an American in Paris at the moment, two words kept occurring to me: Fraternité and honor.

Liberté/Liberty is shared by the mottos of the US and France. France has égalité/equality - and fraternité/brotherhood - to round out their mission statements for national existence, while the US pitches Life and Pursuit of Happiness. Rather than focus on the life and equality potential contradictions, which has fertile possibilities, I found myself contrasting fraternité and pursuit of happiness as Macron advocated, endorsed, pleaded for multilateralism, which sounded like a cumbersome and legalistic synonym for, brotherhood.
Pursuit of happiness versus brotherhood can be a battle, of course depending how one defines happiness. What are the compromises that need to be made to brotherhood in the pursuit of happiness? And vice versa. Macron made the point that these values are not necessarily in the blood of succeeding generations, but need to be imbued over the course of education and life in a society.
The French mottos are engraved in most buildings here in Paris. Not quite like subliminal advertising but it says to the eyes of growing minds, this value is from and for the ages. Pursuit of happiness is not carved in stone in many places in America but is stitched into every message - from "you deserve a break today" and "have it your way" to "what each and every American wants is," which is the hollow mantra of most candidates and office holders, many of whom the French president was addressing.
The statues in public here don’t hide their full humanity unlike in Washington where fig leaves cover the facts of life. Being less giddy about sex is a byproduct of growing up with that around you, and understanding social systems is a byproduct of seeing the other fact of life - brotherhood/fraternité, carved in stone. Pursuit of happiness is like the vapors of wall street or the one-armed bandits of Las Vegas. 
Brotherhood, Macron seemed to be saying, has now moved from a national guide word to a global imperative. 
The Paris Climate Accord is an outgrowth of fraternité and the infantile resistance to it is a tantrum. Pursuit of….happiness? Happiness? The pursuit of chimeras - because without fraternity, real happiness and balance is impossible. Happiness as a momentary diversion is a model for a high strung economy, but it’s not going to create the world that is beckoning unified thinking and action.  
Honor. I see thinkers, composers, writers, philosophers honored in stone and brass throughout the city of Paris. Plaques where they lived - statues - names of streets and buildings and metro stations named after poets and saints. There is the "legion of honor" where various citizens of the world are invited to join. It’s a tradition that honors poets and artists and THINKERS, and that honors honor itself. As loathe as I am to invoke his name, but as the current face and figurehead of a certain American ethos, Trump is a man without honor.
To him,  everyone and everything has a price. There is no invisible standard or way of looking at the world and each other. There are only price tags. He is a dishonorable man who will say anything and doesn’t need to mean it. It only needs to work to get the price he wants. I felt anger and empathy for Macron as he makes an impossible calculation with America’s current shame. It is not up to him to unseat this personification of a culmination of a limping culture, so anger and contempt were softened by my empathy for him. 
In light of that, if there is any empathy for global brotherhood and honor, I exhort all media making a killing by analyzing our president and dissecting tweets or imagining his moods, to shift gears and look to other leaders - analyze other intelligent and visionary  people. Lead us to other notions. Stop enjoying your ratings as you display your indignation and disbelief. This is a self-aggrandizing exercise and it may be paying big time but where is your honor? The irony of a man who only sees price tags BEING  a price tag to the people making a cottage industry of being appalled by him, is rich.  
Being dismayed and horrified by him as performance art, is over and not funny. Next. Move us to what’s next now. Take his power away by not giving him the oxygen of any attention other than what is absolutely necessary. Like a holistic therapy, guide our eyes and ears to anyone in America, and beyond, who speaks to honor and brotherhood.

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis is a playwright.  Archive of his Common Dreams' articles here. His personal website here.

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