Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

The glass is always full — unless it’s in a vacuum

Is the glass half empty or half full? “This idiom is used to explain how people perceive events and objects. Perception is unique to every individual and is simply one’s interpretation of reality.” — Wikipedia

January 20, 2017 is a date that will be remembered across the United States — by some with tremendous joy, by others with abject sorrow. All because of how polarizing Donald Trump has been, and continues to be.

The foundation of his campaign had been denigration — of anything and anyone who did not fit his image of a legitimate American. The legitimate image being that of a white man. Yet scores of people who are not white men rushed to support him, for reasons best known to them!

Hours from him being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America, he attended many of the festivities leading up to the swearing in ceremony on January 20, 2017. Seventy-one days after Hillary Clinton conceded the election via a phone call at 2.30 a.m. on November 9, 2016, Trump continues to feel the need to rally his supporters with his stock derogatory phrases, and of course his embarrassing and puzzling swagger. It was rather disconcerting to hear how he spoke about the individuals who he has chosen to populate his cabinet — although I have never watched a single nanosecond of The Apprentice, but based on how I’ve heard it described, his demeanor when speaking of his cabinet selection process was in every respect like that on his television show.

Donald Trump comes to his swearing in ceremony at reportedly the lowest approval rating for an incoming president. Despite his bloviating, it’s hard to imagine how he will improve those numbers. And the numbers are bound to affect his supporters negatively, because it will be advertised as a grand conspiracy against him. The fallout from that will be further polarization, anxiety, and discontent, reflected not just on “Main Street, but also “Wall Street”.

Even before his swearing in, there are reports of Trump’s plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, and to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is truly shocking because it will amount to a fiscal savings of only 0.02%, while extinguishing possibilities of such universally acclaimed treasures as The Civil War documentary mini series that reportedly had more than 40 million viewers when it was first broadcast in 1990, and many more since. And these viewers have been both republicans and democrats. Arts and humanities are essential to a society’s health. In fact, even the conservative William Bennett, former US Secretary of Education (1985–1988, under Ronald Reagan) reportedly said that the “arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

The glass for the US has always been full, because the US has never existed in a vacuum — the question is not: is it half full or half empty, but, what is the glass filled with, and do we like how it tastes? We can go to the polls and change it every four years as a country, and locally, more frequently. Trump supporters didn’t like the taste of the contents of the glass, and with the help of extant and arguably outdated laws, changed the contents. The contents were not diluted, but completely changed. The question also is this — what will drinking that water do to you?

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Deepti Pradhan

Deepti Pradhan

Employed at Yale University, Deepti is primarily a scientist & patient advocate. She runs Tilde Cafe, a forum to make science accessible (www.tildecafe.org)

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