Over the holidays, I knocked back my first shot.
I’m not much of a drinker and the family gathered to join me in the inaugural (and probably only) shot of my life. They explained the situation to the bartender — that I drank maybe one glass of wine per week, that I didn’t want to feel drunk, that I was a sixty-year-old novice. He kindly mixed the weakest round of shots known to humankind — orange juice with a drop of vodka and a tiny splash of blue curaçao for color. He called it Purple Rain.
In the weeks surrounding my Purple Rain transformation, many changes took place. A majority of Democrats entered The House. A large tuft of hair in my 19-year-old cat’s left ear turned from black to gray. California welcomed a much-needed rainstorm and struggled with the resulting mudslides. But one crucial piece remained unchanged — the Government Shutdown.
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has remained blissfully and aggressively unbothered by the suffering he causes. Women he has grabbed — families at the border. #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter and #NeverAgain. He has turned his back on racial bigotry, Dreamers, gun violence, the entire LGBTQ+ community and the environment. He has declared an enormous group to be rapists, child traffickers and drug lords — based on the color of their skin. And now, unsurprisingly, he is turning against more of his own people with the Government Shutdown. Although quite bothered that he’s not getting his way with The Wall, he remains blissfully and aggressively unbothered by the folks he hurts.
I’ve heard a myriad of interviews with people who suggest various ways to end the shutdown. Some want Donald Trump’s opposition to make a deal. But our president doesn’t honor deals and doesn’t keep promises. Worse, he’s willing to use people — any age, any gender, any citizenship — as leverage. Which means he’s blissfully and aggressively holding human hostages as a negotiation tactic, which leads to a sickening place: President Donald Trump is acting like a terrorist.
Pledging allegiance to his Government Shutdown, Donald Trump continues to approach the presidency with his characteristic cocktail of bliss and aggression. Here, we need a STOP sign, because this particular cocktail should display a skull-and-crossbones warning label. Aggression can be used for the greater good, but only with extreme care. Bliss should be equally rare, a moment of inner peace, a cleansing deep breath, fleetingly insulated from harsher realities. In thoughtful dosages, bliss and aggression can be healthy. However, they should not be mixed. A shot combining bliss and aggression is dangerous.
I recommend Purple Rain.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a therapist-turned-author in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Amy’s first novel, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, deals with homophobic bullying in high school, racial and economic diversity, and the power of friendship. Her second novel, Tightwire, follows a fictional psychotherapy from three perspectives — the rookie therapist scrambling to build a treatment — the patient struggling to heal — the supervisor guiding the young therapist through the complex emotional terrain of her first case.
Amy’s novels are available on Amazon.