Even at the Christian school where I went to college, we were encouraged to challenge the precepts of our faith. “The unexamined faith is not worth having,” was repeated over and over.
In that light, I enrolled in a course titled The Philosophy of Existentialism. We studied Jean Paul Sartre and read the books of Albert Camus and others. It was a grinding, difficult semester because existentialism is not an easy thing to take. Our professor was an engagingly deep thinker who would sit for minutes at a time with his index fingers pushed into the skin of his forehead as if he were attempted to push forth the thoughts lurking within.
But no reading struck me more than the short Sartre piece titled No Exit. Basically the premise of the story is that Hell is Other People. Example: if a person dies, they would be locked in a spare room forever with two other people. At any moment in time, you would not get along with one or the other person in the room.
That sure is hell. And as luck would have it, America is facing that sort of hell and having its supremely existential moment right now. Because if the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is allowed to go forward, and that is not a certainty, then every American will be locked in their own version of a spare room with these two zealots for what will seem like an eternity.
One can imagine getting along with Trump eventually. He changes positions on just about every topic known to man.
But Pence, he’s a stodgy, difficult friend to keep. He may seem nice on the exterior but given his highly dogmatic approach to theology, one would never know if he is agreeing with you or saving up philosophical ammunition to take you down in collaboration with his running mate, Donald Trump.
Just living with Trump on a practical basis might be a form of hell. The time it must take him to prepare his hair to face the public would be agonizing to witness. And surely Mike Pence wears some kind of magical underwear even though he is not a Mormon. Pence just has that uptight Magical Underwear look about him.
And so it would go for all of eternity if one was locked up in a room with Donald Trump and Mike Pence. We all know that hell is other people. But with Trump and Pence as Eternal Roommates, one would live in a perpetual state of fear and threat just by hanging out with two guys whose very candidacy and reason to exist seems to be based on manipulating others and controlling them for their own sakes.
And at some point, given that you were already in hell, it would be excusable to charge either one of those guys and put them out of the existential misery they apparently feel from having to exist in a world with other people. Because Trump has stated how much he distrusts Mexicans and Muslims, women and people who are poor.
Pence hates gays and who knows who else. His ostensibly Christian faith can apparently be twisted to fit the circumstance of whoever it seems convenient to hate. That his how he came to be the running mate for Donald Trump. It’s Hate and Hate. For all Eternity. And welcome to the room where they might reside. It’s called America. But it might just be hell for the next four years at least. Along with all the other deplorables crowding the front door.