Letter: It’s time to live in reality

Donald Trump and ISIS have something in common. Both want to make bygone eras of the past “great” again. They each see the present world, with its complexity, diversity and profusion of choices, as something to be loathed and feared. They would rather revert to a mythical time where if you have the right beliefs and outlook nothing bad can happen to you and all will be well.

Such backward-looking thinking is described quite cogently by Columbia political theorist Mark Lilla in his new book “The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction.” He notes that reactionaries tend to have apocalyptic, crisis-mentality mindsets and are willing to take extreme actions to go back to happier days. In their self-centered egotism they think they are anointed to oppose zeitgeists that they see as immoral.

The fact of the matter is we can’t go back to the seventh century or a time in Donald Trump’s head when America was “great.” Time moves on, and while it’s beneficial to learn from the past one can’t reside there indefinitely. Peter Pan may be able to live in Neverland, but grownups need to live in reality.

Martin H. Levinson

Forest Hills, New York

Letter to the Editor