This week, the European Union President Donald Tusk declared that Donald Trump (and now America) is a credible threat. Consider that for a moment. We were just lumped into a category with Russia, China, terrorists, and radical Islam. Did the EU just call us one of the “bad guys?” Are we?
There are a few ways to break down this new situation in order to better understand our place in the world:
1) Young Blood
Compared to many of the other countries in the world, we’re still relatively young. We came onto the scene fast and hard, fighting our way to the big player’s table. Along our rise, we created some enemies, sure, but we continued our growth and expansion, our eyes always on the top prize. Some potential allies were skeptical of us, but we seemed to be on their team and kept up the good appearance and behavior.
When they needed help from a problem (one we should have stepped into sooner), we came in and helped. We beat the shit out of their bully. We proved ourselves to our friends: we’ve got your back, and to everyone else: don’t fuck with us.
We justified our existence and now everyone we protected was bound to us.
Our message was clear: We’re the Good Guys!
Maybe we even believed it. Honestly, it really did seem like we were.
But remember how young we are? We’re considered to be the Leader of the Free World. Don’t you think that’s a lot of pressure for someone so young?
2) The Kylo Ren Mystery
Since entering our position at the top, there have been a few major missteps along the way. And now, our true colors are coming out, whether we knew they were there or not. The Dark Side is consuming us, and our cover is being pulled back to reveal maybe we weren’t who we always claimed to be.
Not much is known about Kylo Ren, as his origin and intentions are still presumptive and speculative. What we do know: he was being trained by Luke Skywalker, the ultimate Jedi, and was on track to be the most powerful Jedi in the history of the known galaxy. At some point, Ren was seduced by the Dark Side, and with some accomplices, slaughtered the remaining Jedi also under Skywalker’s training and embraced his evil side. While unclear, it is believed this seduction and massacre occurred in his late teens/early 20’s.
Much has been said about Kylo Ren’s attitude, as he is prone to violent tantrums and intense brooding. Some believe that Ren, who is openly struggling with the powers of the Force and battling internally between the Dark and the Light, is an undercover agent for the Light Side, and after killing his father, Han Solo, has officially earned the trust of Supreme Leader Snoke and any other doubting member of the First Order.
Some see Ren as a student thrust into power too soon.
Puberty is hard for anyone; imagine being told you’re the second coming of the Force while dealing with typical teen problems and daddy issues. You’d implode or explode.
Our country has been battling this pubescent stage itself for a while. Forced to the top of the pack too soon, and adding a couple failures under our belt, we have begun to throw tantrums. We’re thrashing and lashing about because we were put into the spotlight too soon. How are we supposed to be the definitive answer to everything? And how frustrating is it that when we do give an answer on anything, we notice that people are whispering about our decisions. Other countries doubt our power and our reasoning. Some think they can do it better.
Kylo Ren’s intentions are hotly debated and a total mystery. He is under the influence of a more powerful leader, but we don’t know exactly how this happened. There is only speculation about Kylo Ren, the First Order, and the fate of the Resistance.
3) The High School Hero
Everyone knows the story of the High School Hero, the most popular kid who goes on to do absolutely nothing with his or her lives. Many believe that the lack of ambition stemming from this societal anomaly comes from the saturation of faux-accomplishment within a non-important bubble.
The downfall of the High School Hero comes a few years after High School, when the dust has settled on everyone’s lives and they begin to realize that they may not be as special as they were once perceived to be. Typically, the High School Hero believes this to be unfair, and will usually create a backlash of resentment and hatred toward those who left High School and went on to do other things.
Everyone fucks up here or there in their lives, and for the High School Hero, it’s usually a DUI. Maybe they’re pulled over by an old classmate. They come to terms with the consequences of their actions and bite the hard reality that they’re not going to get away with this like they may have years ago.
Now, they are viewed differently. People look at the Hero with disappointment and resentment, because they had such potential when they were younger and did nothing with the opportunities in front of them. With the DUI (or worse), the Hero has even less opportunities.
The High School Hero becomes a staple at the local bar, regaling those who will listen with past accomplishments and fame. Since Graduation Day, everyone else moved on, and they expected the Hero to do the same. The Hero resists changing for as long as they can, because accepting the new and growing world would, in their minds, somehow discredit the “better time” in which they were Top Dog. They may have to admit a lot to themselves, and instead of that, chose denial-in-the-form-of-anger.
When asked to open their minds to the future and look toward change, the High School Hero follows the timeline of:
I’m not ready…I don’t want to…please don’t make me do it…fuck you for making me do it. And for even suggesting change, I’m going to sabotage my own life in order to spite you, no matter if it works or not, because, again, fuck you. I’m going to ruin everything you want to do in order to bring it back to the time of High School, when things were simple and easy for me.
I don’t give a shit about your world, full of change and what you call improvement. I don’t want your world, I liked mine just fine. Your world can go fuck itself. I’ll be over here doing me and you be other there, doing you. Now stay the fuck away.
Essentially, it’s one enormous tantrum.
When amidst a childlike tantrum, many parenting styles leave the child alone in a room to think about their actions and calm down.
Currently, the United States is in a Tantrum Room, along side other tantrum-like countries that have also misbehaved. The company we are currently keeping is not good. The other countries in this Tantrum Room are not countries you would normally want to hang with. These are countries we disagree with; these are countries that do fucked up shit. Countries we’d never want to live in.
4) The Rabid Dog
Maybe our country is more like a dog that recently transmitted rabies.
We were a good, loyal dog. Just like any dog, we had our moments of biting and breaking the rules, but for the most part, we were great. After getting rabies, we have changed into something else. Everyone is scared of us and what we might do next. We are erratic, vicious, unstable and dangerous.
They’ve recently taken us to a kennel. Once in our cage, we realize we are alone, and the end is near. Our previous companions look at us through the metal crate bars with fear in their eyes. Fear, sadness, and guilt. They are disappointed in themselves for letting us get like this. Part of them will always wonder if they could have done more.
They begin to walk away from our cage as we continue barking and screaming, foaming at the mouth. We’re not ourselves anymore, we’re something else, and there’s no going back. We’re infected with anger and hatred and we’re furious and hurt that they’re leaving us behind to go on to better things.
We see our companion get further away, down the long aisle of cages filled with other dangerous animals. Now that all is lost and we are all alone, an apology is too little too late. We must embrace the madness that we have contracted. We scream to them:
You want a monster? Fine! We’ll show you a fucking monster. You have no idea what kind of monster we can be. We’ll show you all!
Each of these explanations, these attempts at understanding, end differently:
Young Blood ends with us taking a moment to look at ourselves, assess the situation we are currently in, and listen to our elders and peers in hopes of coming out of this ordeal intact. We admit our mistakes and actively continue our journey to grow into the best country of the Free World.
Kylo Ren’s fate is still unknown, as is our current path if we live this scenario. Maybe someone knows what they’re doing after all, and in the end, all this turmoil will be for a reason of justice and good. However, the Dark Side is extremely seductive, and we may fall too deep in to ever come out on the Light Side again. Things may end badly for us here, and it is a gamble half the country is willing to make.
The High School Hero ends with us alienating everyone else and eventually self-destructing. Sad and alone, we sit at the end of the bar, hoping that anyone will take us seriously, secretly knowing that this outcome was our fault all along and we were too stubborn (or ignorant) to change.
The Rabid Dog sees us taken over by a stronger force and eventually put down, either by mercy or by force. We may fight them, but we are already infected, and it is a lost cause for us in the end; we’re going to lose.
There's no telling where we're going or how this is going to end. Each day brings more absurdities and uncertainties that spiral us toward an unknown conclusion. The only thing that rings true is the age-old saying, "Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction."