NGO’s Ethics
Mining and Coercion in Guatemala

Trump’s Lament

By Jonathan B. Wight

Trump is shown on tv, praising Kim Jon Un: “Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different.”

Then comes his lament: “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”  He wants to be fêted with a military parade, perhaps so he could be revered as the supreme leader. 

In a free country, people sit up to attention when a speaker who is respected has something important and interesting to say.  Fortunately, in America we are not threatened with murder or imprisonment for demonstrating lack of respect, as are citizens of Kim's land.

As the old saw goes, respect has to be earned.

Perhaps this is a generational thing, and Trump is indeed of an earlier generation (he is 72 years of age). 

In my first years of teaching, I looked barely older (and sometimes younger) than my undergraduate students.  Back then it was legal for students to drink at 18.  Faculty were encouraged to socialize, so one afternoon I went over to a frat house to have a beer.  In a group of kids, someone turned to me and asked, “So, what are you majoring in?”

I was intent on quickly getting respect in the classroom, and I was probably too harsh, using my authority to force them to respect me or face the consequences. 

Luckily, that period didn’t last long.  When I got more self-confidence I relaxed, and let the natural progression of getting to know people substitute for bravado and threats.

Does the desire for adulation and forced respect suggest anything about ethical maturity?


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