A lot of men find it difficult to say they are sorry. They may feel empathy and know when they have had a negative effect on others and often want to improve things, but are not sure how. For other men, saying they are sorry is hard to do because while they may regret their own actions or words, the fear of losing face and status are powerful motivators to either pretend they did nothing wrong or to minimize the impact of it all.
No question, men get the short end of the stick when it comes to having the full freedom to feel what they feel and talk about it. It’s one of the problems in our culture. And there can come a great loneliness of spirit when we cannot share who we are.
Not so for men like Trump, however, for whom feeling sorry for anything he does has never been on the radar. His admiration for himself — something that seems to expand beyond mere ego — has no boundaries.
Trump will not relinquish the sense he has of his own absolute right to do whatever he wants and say whatever he wants. Recriminations do not touch him. His own goals matter more than anything else, far and above the lives of people who are killed or harmed, whether a journalist in Saudi Arabia or migrant families running for their lives or people vanquished and stranded by an epic hurricane. Encouraging divisiveness, spreading verbal violence, praising physical violence — these become his tools of deliberate manipulation. He is never sorry.
The primary goal of men like Trump is money. All his books, beginning with The Art of the Deal, are about money. Power comes second. But he knows that power follows the money, and he is glad to be complicit. In the haunting study of sin in Dante’s Inferno, part of his The Divine Comedy written early in the 14th century (and popularized now by the novelist Dan Brown), Dante places those who lived for greed in the Fourth Circle of Hell, which “symbolizes their selfish drive for fortune during [their] lifetime.” (Interestingly, in the Eighth Circle of Hell, just one above Satan, Dante places corrupt politicians.)
Yet one wonders, how, really, can Trump behave with such indifference to everyone and everything but himself?
It is an interesting question, but the answer comes quickly. His supreme overconfidence is the outcome of pride — the level of all-consuming pride that exists when a man believes he is entitled to be “king of the world.” His motivation is greed, and his extraordinary lack of introspection means he finds it easy to see other people as pawns to get his way. Dante explored “pride” in the Inferno as well, placing those who were filled with pride in the 9th Circle of Hell, where the fallen angel Lucifer resides.
One wonders, what would happen if prideful men like Trump had their money and all its complicit power taken away from them? Imagine that for a moment, unlikely as it is. Who would they be then?
What becomes of them without the money, these men who like Trump have never doubted themselves, who have never admitted wrongdoing, who have never said they were sorry for anything? Again, imagine it. Without money, such men would be left as empty shells with nowhere to turn, set adrift in a world they have no way to comprehend. Their all-consuming pride would have no recourse any longer. The subservient crowds have gone away. No one is listening to them.
The thing is, men like Trump have shown up periodically in the course of our long recorded history, pursuing their relentless and single-minded ambition for fame and fortune, unconcerned about the needs of other human beings or their own lack of morality. But the duration of their power is brief. Hubris wins. Their legacy crumbles in the end, less tangible than the wind crossing the desert.
And in the here and now, it ceases to matter that a man like Trump is unable to apologize for wrongdoing, that he cannot feel empathy for others, and that he cannot understand anything beyond his own needs. He has not earned the right to be so much the focus of our attention, no matter what office he holds.
For the human spirit was created to manifest hope and unity and caring. No matter what has happened or happens at any given time on this planet, love and cooperation and kindness and truth are far greater and stronger and always arise out of and beyond the darkness of greed and pride.