Uncle Screwtape Got Me Thinking

Originally published on October 19th, 2016 by Tony DiGiovanni via LinkedIn.

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Written in the spirit of CS Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters:

“My dear wormwood,

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.

Keep up the good work,

Uncle Screwtape.”

It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to create a system in the US in which our leaders are supposed to represent us. It has numerous checks and balances to ensure it stays that way. As an aside, the two major parties were never part of our Constitution and George Washington even warned us about their dangers. So, I wonder how much these two candidates represent us. On the surface, most of the people I know would say not at all. But I wonder how true we are being with ourselves. Have you looked on Twitter or Facebook when you post anything with an opinion in it? I’m starting to wonder if these two candidates really do represent two parts of ourselves that we’d all rather not acknowledge but nonetheless exist.

Mr. Trump represents our fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of someone taking our job and livelihood away. Fear that we aren’t as good as someone else who might be a different race or have different religious beliefs. Fear that our government is out of control. Now, this fear comes out in bizarre and truly distasteful ways in Mr. Trump, but the fear is still real. I don’t think most of us would act the way he does even with that fear. Most of us are braver than he is. Most of us respect others more than he does. Most of us don’t covet wealth and fame the way he does. Still, we all have our fears, and he personifies them well.

Mrs. Clinton represents our ambitions. What would you do to get what you want or hope to achieve? Would you use all of your power and influence to get to a better place? Would the answer be different if we were talking about your children’s achievements? Would you do anything to ensure their success? Do the scruples we hold so dear and close to our hearts go by the wayside, or, at the very least, does the line get blurry? Many of us probably haven’t achieved enough to get to the line to know how we’d perform on the test. Others may have crossed the line but give excuses as to why it was okay for their particular circumstances. Still others stay firm and truly hate what they believe she represents.

As uncomfortable and distasteful as this election cycle has become, it is an opportunity for us to hold up a giant mirror to ourselves and our society. I think the tide is turning, and I am optimistic about the future. I think that in the future we’ll look for candidates with more desirable attributes. We’ll crave a representation of what we aspire to be. We’ll find people who show bravery in the face of fear and people who will treat all of humanity with dignity and respect. We’ll find ambitious leaders with the moral fiber to do good while doing well. These people won’t represent us anymore than Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton do, but they may move us in a better direction. This election is our wake-up call. I truly believe we’ll get through this and thrive. We will continue to reach for our highest aspirations rather than sink to the worst of our human nature. It is what makes us Americans and our country great.

 

Anthony J. DiGiovanni, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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