“From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step”…Ulysses (James Joyce), 1922
It is a saying that has roots in the 18th century.
What does it mean?
Sublime: of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.
Ridiculous: deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.
We are at a point where one of the brightest, most thoughtful and classiest presidents is leaving office. He considers decisions. He looks at all sides of an issue. He compromises. He puts the needs of the less fortunate above his own financial state. He will have a longstanding legacy and will go down in US history as one of the great ones. Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Obama.
We are at a point where one of the least informed, thoughtless presidents is about to take power. He tweets like a schoolgirl. He is thin skinned and sees every disagreement as a challenge to his manhood. He mocks the disabled. He puts his own wealth and family business interests ahead of anything else. He will go down in US history as one of the great catastrophes of democracy. Buchanan, Harding, Andrew Johnson, Trump.
It is not the end of the world. As President Obama has said recently:
“The only thing that is the end of the world…is the end of the world.”
But this ridiculous man. This boy-clown. This tweeter will dominate the news for the next 4 years. He will be a source of entertainment. A source of sadness. A major step backward.
But eventually the “ridiculous” will end. Hang in there. The tide of history moves forward.