Where would Left at the Altar be without long-time contributor Cristina White? Moribund, that’s where! Cristina first published a longer version of this post on her own blog, Zen Crunch. Our intention was to cross-post it here, but I got tangled up in work deadlines and delayed publication. Check out Cristina’s many other contributions to Left At The Altar, and visit her author website to see what else she’s up to.
On April 30th this year, I saw what it means to be truly rich. That was the day that Amtrak Joe—now our President— traveled to Philadelphia to mark the 50th Anniversary of Amtrak. Biden spoke about the professionalism of Amtrak people, and how hard they work. And he told a story of a time when he was a young Senator with a work-family conflict.
“I remember one night, my daughter was only six years old, and it was my birthday. And we were voting, and I went to Bob Dole and I said, ‘Bob, when’s the next vote going to take place?’ He said, ‘Joe, what—why?’ I said, ‘Well, my daughter is really upset I’m not going to be able to be home for the birthday cake she made for me.’
He said, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘I need just time to catch the five o’clock Metro, and I can get the 6:28 coming back,’ because on the platform you can just —in Delaware, you walk from one side to the other. I got off the train. My wife, Jill, was standing there, and my daughter had the cake and candles lit. I blew them out. Gave me a kiss. Walked across and got on the southbound.”
There was so much conveyed in that anecdote—for one, the fellowship of colleagues that existed in the Senate then: Bob Dole, a Republican Senate Majority Leader helping Joe Biden, a Democrat, solve the problem of needing to be in two places at almost the same time.
But what really came through to me in this story is that Joe Biden is loved. He is a loving man who is loved in return by a great many people.
In that moment of realizing the wealth of love for Joe Biden, I suddenly felt a deep sorrow for Donald Trump, a man who was never loved. All the heartache and heartbreak and cruelty that he brought to this country during the course of his presidency, the ugliness of the January 6th insurrection that he provoked—all of that had a single root: no one loved Donald. Neither his mother nor his father were there for him. There was no affection or kindness in his dysfunctional family.
I’ve been reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In the chapter titled Hungry Ghosts, she writes, “An unchecked ego is what the Buddhists call ‘a hungry ghost’ —forever famished, eternally howling with need and greed.”
To my mind, that is what Donald Trump gave us: four years of one long, terrible howl. There is a hole in him that cannot be filled. Now, on the small stage that Mar-a-Lago provides him, Trump continues to howl. He has no conscience, no inkling of soul. His ego rules every waking minute of every single day.
Liz Gilbert contends that we all have some version of that hungry-ghost hunger. But there is an antidote. “My saving grace is this…I know that I am not only an ego; I am also a soul.”
Joe Biden’s main message during his campaign was “…the need to restore the soul of the nation.” And beneath the everyday work of the transformative legislation he is setting in motion, President Biden is set on fulfilling that campaign promise.
Biden is a good man who believes in the goodness of people. He has a genuine concern for the common good, and a belief that all of us deserve to enjoy the opportunity, peace, and prosperity that is the promise of America. All that love, all that compassion and concern for the welfare of others, makes Joe Biden a truly rich man.