mercredi, septembre 12, 2012

Adieu the simple mind

I sat across the table from a friend from church today.

We didn't stop talking for more than an hour and a half.

While we were supposed to be chatting about interfaith and ecumenical ministry, we spent most of the time talking politics.

He's one of the few people, I found today,  with whom I can discuss politics without causing myself gritted molar distress.

I find it hard to develop an opinion, he said to me, because the issues are so complex.

Then he unleashed a torrent of facts, ideas and sobering examples of people who were only getting their news from one media outlet -- and had opinions to match.

He's swung back and forth between our two large political parties. Neither of us is particularly happy with the status quo.  Both of us have questions. Big questions.

Such conversations, I am afraid, are increasingly rare in America.

Earlier that morning, I'd sat in the car in the Cabrini parking lot, listening to "Morning Edition" as the anchors confirmed the news that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff had been killed the night before. I listened as the Egypt-based reporter's voice broke when she got the news.  Stevens had been very much respected, she said.

Then I wept.

Wept, as many Americans probably did this morning, for the death of a good man, a man who was driven by  faith.  Faith in the people he served  Faith in the people with whom he served. Faith in the power of an ideal larger than himself.

When I heard that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had criticized the "Obama Administration" as apologists on the evening of September 11th, I was horrified.

Yesterday, by general and unspoken agreement, was a day on which the nation was supposed to rise above politics.

Apparently Romney didn't get the message.

He's been on the "Obama is an apologist" kick for a while -- and when he saw an opportunity, he took it.

It wasn't long before the Administration fired back by telling him and millions of Americans how "shocked" they were by his comments ( remarks which preceded our knowledge of Ambassador Stevens' death).



Just stop, damn it.

Can't we have a day to grieve before hurling accusations?

One day's vacation from rhetorical excess.

A day to let the families of the murdered men cope with their own and much more valid shock?

President Obama's got his hands full right now.  We don't really know what's going to happen. It could be that he's going to mess up the United States response and we will inexorably be drawn into the chaos that is Middle Eastern politics right now.

It could be, on the other hand, that he's going to give it his best in a world with increasingly complex problems.

Syria remains a huge bloodstain on the world's conscience -- and in decency today, we may grieve too for those innocents who have gotten trapped in an increasingly barbaric war.

That seems appropriate.

Moderation seems appropriate.

Neither Romney nor Obama are idealists, or passionately engaged with other citizens in a way that reveals their hearts.  It reads as though Stevens was, perhaps -- and he's the one who is dead.

Maybe that tells us something.

But it's not something I want to hear tonight.

Leave me alone. Leave us alone.

Have you no long last?

What would it take, politicians, for you to care first about the people you serve?

Democracy is not  a game...and grief not a garment, to be put on and taken off at will.

To take a day or two to be respectfully quiet, or to unite with our Commander in Chief, is what most of
Congress chose to do.

Because they know something about loss.

We move on.

They weep still.

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