Tuesday, January 28, 2014

He will surely come

It must hurt deeply to be a conservative today in countries like France or America. Here in the States, to be a conservative means one wants to live a common sense and decent life, to be responsible in one’s personal economy, to do as one wants to be done by. It means wanting to conserve the principles of the American Revolution (if one has had enough education to know what these are). It doesn’t have anything to do with gay bashing or blowing up abortion clinics, or even with standing around for hours protesting with placards, or having ‘tea parties.’ It doesn’t necessarily mean living in the past either. It does mean, however, that one believes in America, in its moral strengths (not the publicity kind, but the quiet kind that keeps the country moving forward, inch by inch). It pains the conservative here, to see one’s President bowing and kissing the hand of a Sa’udi king, as if he were his liege man, while not even nodding before the current Queen of our ancient royal line, of whom George III was our last king. And for the conservative Frenchman, what to make of a president whose ‘First Lady’ was almost this one, then was that one, but insecurely because of the possibly next one. Even for the French, this really must be too much.

I dropped out of political debate ages ago, and even though my precinct card shows me as a Republican, it’s not with the Republican Party that I identify. I identify with reason. I associate with tolerance. I support compassion. In actual fact, I inherited my party affiliation in the same way I became a Catholic: it was handed down to me by my parents. I thought that being a Republican meant that I held up as my hero the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who came from my home state, Illinois, and I loved the party mascot, the elephant, strong and wise and able to remove obstacles like a Hindu god of the same species. But I grew up. I saw what was happening to my country, and whether run by this or that party, we were drifting off course. Our captains were becoming smaller and weaker of stature, until finally we found ourselves with no captain at all. I thought to myself, ‘It’s time to move to Japan.’ But I didn’t do that. It was just a frustrating dream. When problems are on the rise, it’s not time to fall asleep and dream of escape. It’s time to awake.

This is not a time to criticize or to denounce what it is that is wrong with America, or France, or any of the countries of the declining West, but a time to draw ourselves together and really seek the good that we desire. Not a time to divide or keep divided what mere rhetoric and slogan has torn apart, pitting brother against brother, and sisters against both. I remember a time, just barely remember, but it did happen, when there was a spirit in the air over my country that infiltrated many hearts and warmed them to right action, to compassion and commitment. I hear a song echoing from that past time, ‘If I had a hammer…’ and when I even whistle the tune (for I’ve forgotten enough of the words to not be able to sing it) my soul, that which animates this old body and inspires this flagging mind, is aroused by the memory of what once was, and what could yet be. ‘This song would be a better national anthem for today,’ I think to myself. ‘What we need now,’ I muse, ‘is not another president, but a Hero.’ That man is already waiting in the wings, he’s still growing in strength. But yes, he will surely come.

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