There is little we find more abhorrent than when our heroes turn out to be villains. We are rightly abhorred by stories of long-suffering mothers who were discovered to be intentionally poisoning their children, teachers who molest their students, health-care workers who take lives, pastors who seduce and rob their followers, and police officers who assault and harass rather than protect and serve. Equally disturbing are the all too frequent stories of when arsonists turn out to be firefighters. While it may seem reasonable to assume that these twisted firestarters joined volunteer fire departments (which is generally where they are found) because of their lust for the inferno, there is some evidence that their pyromania actually develops as a result of their firefighting activity. Fighting a fire is a rush that is relatively rare in these suburban and rural areas, and like a drug where the first hit is free, the rush can be addictive. When the action is slow, the firestarter creates the disaster that brings the rush. No doubt the arsonist was unbalanced to begin with, but without the fire department they might just have become your obnoxious neighbor who's always starting drama.
Since God has done us the honor of creating us in His own image, we seem to feel that it is only fair that we recreate Him in ours. One might imagine that a reflection of a reflection should result in a circular translation of the original image, but alas, much is lost in the translation!
"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."
Hopelessness is the final refuge of the coward and the sluggard. No human is immune from the temptations of fear and sloth, and so we are all on occasion apt to teeter on the edge of losing that one glorious flame that holds us on course for our journey of life. Hope means work. Hope can be scary. If you believe for tomorrow, then you are obliged to prepare for it, and in all probability help bring it about. If you have hope in a future, then the future's enemies are your enemies today. It would be easier to surrender. Easier to imagine the battle has been lost. Easier to abandon the burden of hope, and to live out our days in the melancholy ease of submission. Yet, if we do, will we not be haunted by the words of Winston Churchill and the ghosts of the martyrs who shared such sentiments?
"America swings like a pendulum do."
(with apologies to Roger Miller!)
Just to review a little recent history: Barack Obama was elected as President in 2008, which coupled with an impressive showing for Democrats in the 2006 mid term election caused the now all too familiar proclamations that the GOP was dead, that America was no longer a center right nation, that a new progressive era had risen. Then came 2010 and the Tea Party. Less proclaimed by the media, but it would seem from the election results that America had suddenly returned to its conservative roots. Republicans regained control of the House, and Democrats suddenly started embracing 2nd amendment rights, and shooting rifles at Obamacare on commercials. Fast forward to 2012 and GOP voters largely stayed home, disenchanted with the lackluster choice of Mitt Romney as a candidate, and arguably the worst President in recent history was comfortably reelected. So much for the Tea Party revolution. Then, a few months ago in the 2014 midterms, Republicans romped to victories pretty much everywhere there was a competitive election to be held with both establishment and non-establishment candidates. God bless our schizophrenic America! The pendulum swings, but only in two directions.
I'm on vacation this week, so William Way Jr. is filling in for me with this offering!
Has Racism Replaced Civility
I was reading from the world's most reliable and sublime new source today; Facebook. That of course was conclusively factual and so I had no need for further research.
The possible topics for discussion this week seem endless. There's the low hanging fruit of the Sony withdrawal of the film "The Interview" which satirically presented the conspiracy to assassinate the President of North Korea. It would seem the North Koreans were a little more upset with Hollywood than we were when a slightly more serious film was produced depicting the hypothetical assassination of our own George W. Apparently the North Koreans don't have a sense of humor when it comes to insinuations of killing their dear leader and self-proclaimed deity. Now, joking about murdering an actual identifiable person probably should be filed in the "bad taste" category along with jokes about rape, pedophilia, or torturing someone's pet; but I share the disappointment that many others have voiced that cyber-terrorists were able to bully a movie studio out of their freedom of speech, even if that speech was in poor taste. I will not however judge the studio for it's decision, as many including our President have. I am always amused by how generous people "would" be with money they don't have. "If I won the lottery"... "if I had Bill Gates's money"... "If I were in charge at Sony". Likewise, it's easy to be principled and courageous when the knife is at someone else's throat. I am disappointed that it has come to this, that the bullies won, that we are so weak. The true fault lies with a government that is doing everything except its one primary duty, to protect its citizens (and corporations) from threats foreign and domestic.
It would seem that those who possess the offices of leadership believe that the only thing worse than telling a lie is telling the truth. Caught in a lie their default response is to always extend the tangled web, as though Lenin's quote, that "A lie told often enough becomes the truth", is not an absurdity at all. Or that Adolf Hitler's words are the maxim to govern by, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."
"Liberty is the soul's right to breathe, and when it cannot take a long breath, laws are girdled too tight."
Henry Ward Beecher
File this one under "arm chair quarter backing", or "water cooler conversation". I was not on the grand jury for the Eric Garner decision. I am not a lawyer, a police officer, a district attorney, a forensic specialist, or a psychic. While this hasn't prevented others from giving categorical or almost clairvoyant opinions on the motivations of those involved, the machinations of the grand jury proceedings, or the remediation procedures of law enforcement; I will try to limit my commentary to "Well, this is what it seems like to me." Heck, I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn last night!
There is a war that America is losing. It's battleground is our cities, and we are losing it because, to a great extent, we are not fighting it. It is not a race war, and it is not a war between police and criminals; these are but the conscripted soldiers in the conflict between forces as old as life itself. Life seeks to thrive, to prosper, and to procreate; but always there is an opposing force that's only purpose seems to be to destroy. Whether you see that force as a metaphysical evil or simply a hostile universe, it is clear that the natural state of existence is struggle, and surrendering to that struggle will always end in death, chaos, and destruction.
Immigration vs Discrimination
Well, everybody else with a bone to pick or an axe to grind has sounded off about President Obama's classroom lecture to America about immigration. I guess it is time for me to do the same.