Continuing on the theme of yesterday’s post, it occurs to me that if Nigel Farage’s beer and cigarettes are what make many people love him, they could equally be what make many people loathe him.
After all, if you don’t drink and you don’t smoke, you’re unlikely to be enamoured of someone who brazenly does both.
It’s perhaps why Donald Trump attracts the same sort of love, and the same sort of loathing. Because although Donald Trump neither smokes nor drinks, he’s as brazen as Nigel Farage in promoting himself. In fact he’s far more brazen. He’s a rich man who is unashamed of his wealth. While there are many wealthier men in the world, they tend to be discreet about their wealth. They don’t make a show of it. But Donald Trump does make a show of it. He’s indiscreet. And that’s maybe what his enemies hate about him most.
The people who love Donald Trump are people who’d like to be as rich as he is. They see nothing wrong with being rich. They’d like to have gold bathtubs too. And they’d like to flaunt it like he does. And since most people would like to be rich, most people love him: it’s why he got elected President.
And the people who loathe Donald Trump are people who think that being rich is sinful – as sinful as smoking and drinking. They condemn smoking, and they condemn drinking, and they condemn wealth (even though many of them – like Nancy Pelosi – are very rich). Or maybe it’s that they condemn indiscreet wealth. They maybe think it’s okay to be rich, just so long as you don’t flaunt your wealth.
Perhaps the roots of this attitude is to be found in Christianity:
According to historian Alan S. Kahan, there is a strand of Christianity that views the wealthy man as “especially sinful”. In this strand of Christianity, Kahan asserts, the day of judgment is viewed as a time when “the social order will be turned upside down and … the poor will turn out to be the ones truly blessed.”
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
But what’s meant here by “wealth” is material possessions like land and palaces and gold and money. You’re rich if you’ve got lots of stuff, poor if you don’t.
But another idea of wealth – or well-being – is that you’re only rich to the extent that you can live an idle life, and poor to the extent that you must work.
In this view, the “working classes” are not poor because they don’t have big houses and fast cars and gold bathtubs, but are poor because they have to work. And the “idle rich” are not rich because they own big houses and fast cars and gold bathtubs, but are rich because they live idle lives.
And it’s perfectly possible for materially poor (non-gold-bathtub-owning) people to live idle lives. And it’s equally possible for materially rich (gold-bathtub-owning) people to live very busy lives. And maybe that was what Jesus was driving at.
In fact Donald Trump is a very, very hard-working man. He’s pretty much the hardest-working man in America. Although he does occasionally find time to play golf on one or other of his numerous golf courses. The rest of the time he’s hands-on running the US government.
And he’s often said that he didn’t need to become President of the United States, and that he could have lived a very nice life as he was.
It may also be that smoking and drinking are detested because they are idle pastimes, things that idle people do. Someone who is sitting in a pub, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette, is someone who isn’t working. And what the antismoking killjoys really can’t stand is people who aren’t working. They’re envious.
Or maybe what they can’t stand is people who brazenly sit in a pub, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. And when they’ve evicted them from the pubs, they can’t stand them brazenly sitting outside pubs, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.
It’s another nice, warm, sunny day here in Herefordshire.
So it’s almost time to go and sit outside a pub, brazenly drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.