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What Kind of Trouble Are We In?

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

We are in trouble. Is it “good trouble” as advocated by John Lewis, or some other kind?

Are we heading toward something like the “troubles” in Ireland: bombings, assassinations, fires, torture? Will we become terrified instead of just fearful?

Or is it like the trouble in the French town of Calais during the Hundred Year War when the British laid siege to the town and six leading citizens surrendered to save it; immortalized in Rodin’s sculpture, “The Burghers of Calais”?

What about the troubles that echo loudly in American history?

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through

Nobody knows my sorrow

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen

Glory hallelujah!

For some of us, troubles are no stranger. Some troubles, of course, were created and maintained by us—the white male social world in which I, and most of you, exist. At times, it seems like we have moved beyond these troubles, and then they appear again.

Given the white male domination of our nation right now, we face two troubles: troubles that are denied and ignored and troubles that are shattering our mirror of ourselves.

You know the first kind: the troubles caused by our wanton expansion of Capitalism, or what I prefer to call “American Prosperity.” We are destroying our shared habitat. We are turning away from the millions of economic and environmental refugees, violating their human rights, and our sense of a shared humanity. Thousands die while we play on the beach.

If we are to address these troubles, we have to confront what has become too obvious to ignore: the secession of the Executive Branch and much of the Republican party, from the Union.

This is not a conflict between the States, but between the branches of government, and the government and the people. Trump has taken over the Executive Branch, for the most part, and has weakened the Supreme Court’s capacity to limit his control of the election. The Republican party, loyal to Trump’s reign, has the Senate do his bidding. In contrast to the Southern states secession, this secession has not been a separation from the Union to form a separate nation, but rather a secession to dominate the entire nation.

This is big trouble, and I don’t think it’s good. “Good trouble” shakes things up, unfreezes things, so they can be put together better. Bad trouble shakes things up so some can gain more power over others. Terrible trouble shakes things up so things fall apart. Some on the far left and far right might vote for terrible trouble, but they ignore how many of us depend on the rule of law to protect us. Laws need to be changed—that’s the rule of good trouble—but not eliminated.

This could be the time of terrible trouble. I’m terrified. So, we have to vote, and support voting like we have never before. We can no longer ask for the government to unite the people, the people have to unite the government.

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Marvin T. Brown
Marvin T. Brown
Sep 30, 2020

I would like to see us focus on enforcing the laws that protect the vulnerable, Our "union" is ultimately based on. the rule of law, not on persons. It's hard to see this clearly in our climate of injustice, where some get away with intimidating and oppressing others, and inequalities seem "natural." At the same time, our ancestors have given us the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Protocol for the protection of civilians, the 14th Amendment, and other expressions of justice that could serve us well in uniting our government.


Nancy Southern
Nancy Southern
Sep 30, 2020

Thanks for the insight Marvin. I hate to imagine moving into terrible trouble but agree it seems to be on the horizon. The call out Trump made in then1st debate with Biden last night for the “Proud Boys to stand back and stand by” was frightening. If there was any question in anyone’s mind that he encourages white supremacy, that statement should have made it obvious. I like your comment on the people uniting the government and would like to hear more about what that looks like to you. I don’t see it as the democrats taking control but rather people, including those who represent us in the government, demonstrating how we all can live together in this nation…

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