The village idiot and the nature of greed: reflections on Donald Trump

Trump serves as the village idiot, speaking the truth while he masks it in his web of unending lies and mental craziness.

We need that truth-teller.

Photo credit: zizzybaloobah via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: zizzybaloobah via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

Even the “We love everything Trump and think the GOP can do no wrong” Wall Street Journal had this as its front page headline: “Trump Shared Secrets With Russians.” The article is behind a paywall, but the first paragraph reads:

President Donald Trump shared sensitive intelligence obtained from a close U.S. ally with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a meeting last week, according to U.S. officials, potentially jeopardizing critical intelligence-sharing agreements in the fight against Islamic State.

The handling of such secrets to Russian spies was not technically illegal. He may avoid impeachment, But he’s probably toast as an effective POTUS . . . except for the terminally greedy.

If GOP members of Congress continue to support him, and especially if they pass his plans to rip health insurance from many of the poor, they’ll likely lose their seats in the 2018 elections.

This presidency, so enmeshed in controversy, has magnificently crippled itself.

Greed guides everything

Now, we’ve had bumblingly incompetent and ignorant leaders before. But 45 may be the first one who is guided by only one drive: to be rich.

folded money for Trump's pocketThat’s all that matters to this degraded specimen of humanity. He has no soul, no concern for the nation, no compassion for the suffering, no real interest in national security unless it will enrich his personal coffers. He is nothing but an overblown dollar bill.

And again, it is all driven by greed. Trump’s interior life, the abyss of neediness, endlessly sucks us all into that bottomless black hole.

But I’ll miss him when he’s gone. I’ll miss his craziness. I’ll miss the fact that his desperately lonely and childish soul has inadvertently revealed the large sickness and increasing anguish in US society.

Trump: the village idiot

He serves as the village idiot, speaking the truth while he masks it in his web of unending lies and mental craziness.

We need that truth-teller. We need that village idiot. We need the racist to speak out loud. We need the genital-grabbing locker-room male to tell the truth about his debased motives. We need the money-driven to shout from the rooftops, “NOTHING matters but getting more money for me.”

As the idiot shouts out these truths, they open our eyes to our societal sickness and offer a wedge for the gospel to enter.

A friend of mine recently said that we need a theology of politics. Yes, we do. But that theology must not be one that insists on adherence to a particular religion. Such an insistence dooms democracy and imposes ideology. That’s not what the US has ever been about.

I think that a coherent political theology embraces the need for a “commons,” i.e., an awareness that we must participate and support some things for the public good. Furthermore, those public goods, i.e., the “commons,” need both a shared ethos and legal protection.

Check out this summary of the economic theory called “The Tragedy of the Commons.”  It’s worth reading, as the idea has multiple implications.

The guiding principle of many faiths, which many call the Golden Rule, can have the biggest impact here. We focus on treating others in the ways we want to be treated. That means we limit some individual freedoms so the larger commons stay vibrantly healthy. Yes, it’s hard to live this way, but it sure beats the alternative of unbridled greed.

The impact of faith

Greediness affects all levels of society. Having riches does not necessarily lower greed. Living in poverty does not necessarily enhance it.

Greed is just part of the human condition. We see it from the very beginning when Cain kill Abel because Cain is greedy for all of God’s praise and acceptance. Greed drives every war, every act of unwarranted aggression against others.

And here is where people of faith can indeed have an impact. We need to support the teaching of ethics, moral, and communal responsibility in all schools. We need to do so without tying it to a specific faith practice and without denying the place of individual freedoms in a society like ours.

Let us do all possible to make sure every single child has consistent exposure to this form of central morality. Help them to see that all actions matter. Model for them the fact that consistent contributions to the common good ultimately enrich all individually as well.

This can be the “commons” of the faith-based world.


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  • Robin Shope Jansen

    Wonderfully written. Yes, greed is running rampant in this administration. Time to stand up for what is right and honorable and good. Thank you for another enlightening article.

    • Guthrum

      “greed is running in this administration” ? I see a chance of a middle class tax cut, a health insurance that will help lower rates, and trade policies that are already bringing jobs back. In the past few months a factory has reopened that had been shuttered since 2009: lots of people finally got good jobs. A new factory is under construction: a company from is locating here. Housing is finally booming. The people around here don’t see all this greed you are talking about. They see hope: finally after so many years. They are happy.
      This town is moving forward !

  • Georgianne Burlage

    We have to stop this administration before real, irreparable damage is done to our nation and world. Thank you sharing your thoughts

  • bthomas

    Saw that phrase, “sensitive intelligence” and got worried. Thought Trump had really made a mistake and maybe shared Coke’s secret recipe, maybe let slip Col. Sanders secret 11 herbs and spices. But guess it’s O.K. After all, it’s not like he gave the Russians thousands and thousands of e-mails giving piles and piles of information that was classified, secret and top secret.

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    Well, you nailed it right on the head again. Greed, stupidity a complete disregard for anyone else, causing the US to look like a nation of fools, a godless soul, and so much more. Our future generations need to be taught ethics and morals in school based on proper behavior and how to treat each other. Commonly known as The Golden Rule. Great article.

    • Chuck Johnson

      “Our future generations need to be taught ethics and morals in school
      based on proper behavior and how to treat each other.”

      Actually, Donald’s campaign behavior and his presidential behavior are lessons in ethics and morals. It’s just a shame that they are more “cautionary tales” than straightforward lessons in ethics.

      Similar to the Richard Nixon fiasco.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Been spending most their lives
    living in a gangster’s paradise.