If there was ever a year when people all over need to move from “distentio animi” (the soul stretched out of shape and distracted) to “intentio animi” (roughly, concentration) and from discordance to concordance, it’s now, 2018. Of course Americans are not united, but I expect even those who figured what the heck let’s roll the dice in 2016, not necessarily from evil intent but in many cases out of real frustration, many if not most such people are worried and troubled by what they saw in 2017. Every president has the capacity to initiate events, for better or worse. But there is now an election in view, and it is now possible for those Americans who want to check and balance this president to focus on doing so. Yes he can try to get us to pay attention to shiny objects and yes we may get fooled into diving down one or two rabbit holes, but there is hope for “intention” this year, intention for the sake of protecting our constitutional rights and our way of life (imperfect though it is). We need to insist on sane and responsible representation this November. We voted (via the electoral college, bless its quasi-democratic heart) to take a risky path a year and a half ago, but we have a chance to repair, I hope, much of the damage this fall. Any politician, in spite of possibly honorable past service, who is subservient to our current president is not serving freedom and democracy well at this point. If that sounds oblivious to the many flaws of the Democratic Party or “the left,” so be it. Differences over the proper size and shape of the federal government are one thing. Protecting freedom and the Constitution is a higher imperative at this moment.
P.S. For a seemingly abstract (though in Augustine, book 11, strikingly concrete) take on “distention” and intention, see the following sources (Augustine’s Confessions as translated recently by Sarah Ruden; Peter Brown’s review of Ruden’s version; and Paul Ricoeur’s interpretation of Augustine):