My grandma plays bridge one night a week with a group of ladies. Politalk has become increasingly regular. As the group's only non-Democrat, my Grandma called me the other night to confirm some facts that she thought the ladies were getting wrong. They were. Nothing is more satisfying than when your Grandma calls you at 8pm on a Sunday night to get some ammo for the coming week's bridge showdown.
I think my Grandma's sarcasm gathered strength by skipping a generation (my mom, but maybe not my uncle Scott) and found a warm, welcoming sanctuary in my humor. By this I mean that my Grandma is uniquely prepared to defend herself with facts against the group of hostile grannies she takes money off each week.
Which all got me wondering about why many people who've been thinking for themselves for half a century after high school and college can have such a difficult time getting with the post 9/11 program.
Much of it has to do with the cliche about old habits and how they die. The Democratic party of 40 years ago is virtually unrecognizable from their former leader who once said:
"...we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Sounds a heck of a lot like George Bush's recent inaugural address, huh? But as you know, those were the words of JFK in his January 20th, 1961 inaugural address. What was patriotic, visionary and very a liberal idea at the time has become "reckless, arrogant and ideological" in the eyes of the people who cheered the 1961 version. If JFK were alive today, he'd be considered a conservative for his positions on low taxes, business enterprise and willingness to assert American military might. Those views are now held almost exclusively in the Republican party as the liberals have hijacked the former major party. This has left people arguing for a party rather than an ideology.
The boomers of the babies have seen more wars than the me who's only seen a couple U.S. military victories. They've seen the valor of the United States of America in WW I & II, Japan and Korea, but those memories of honorable victory are now seen through the murky prism of Vietnam. Our intentions there were just as honorable, but because the goal did not satisfy the "what's in it for us" question being asked domestically, we lost that war to our most potent enemy - the mainstream media. The dishonor leveled at our troops upon their return from Vietnam when compared to the hero's welcome of wars past gives those a tendency that lived all of them to balk at the chance of putting our fighting men and women in a situation where their sacrifice is again diminished by fevered critics.
I understand that thinking, but it doesn't have to be that way. We don't have to live in the artificially long shadow of Vietnam anymore. We're better than that. The principles on which America was founded require more from us than the pessimistic and cynical reflex to the use of American might. As no armed enemy can defeat us, our success is based only on winning our own hearts and minds and keeping the will of the American people strong enough to see it through.
I recall a poster in grade school: "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right." Do you believe it? I do. George Bush does. As he made abundantly clear in his inaugural address, he believes that the United States has a major responsibility in the world, one that makes America safer by fighting an enemy that undertands the beginning of their end when the restraints of tyranny begin to disintegrate with every breath of freedom. It began in Afghanistan and will continue when Iraq votes on Sunday.
But why us? Why do we have to be the world police? Because we're the only ones who can. Luke 12.48 says that "To whom much is given, much is required." Do you believe it? I do. It's a tremendous responsibility, one that makes those who don't believe it very uncomfortable. Operating on the front lines of most of the world's issues not only makes us a target for countries questioning our intentions, but sets up our mistakes and failures to be broadcast, inflated, derided and encouraged by people who like to see winners fail.
Young or old or in between, the way you approach life as an American - no matter our differences in taxes, marriage or enterprise - can be summed up this way: you either believe or you don't.
We believers know that being the best country in the world doesn't mean we're perfect. Believers know the United States is the largest force for good on the planet and despite our mistakes or any miscalculations, our country is run by human beings who are willing to be hated by many to fight for the rights of a few.
The United States was founded on optimism, forged by blood and is sustained by belief. We believe that every citizen of the world is indeed endowed with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we believe that sometimes people with really big guns have to fight those who wish deprive us of those rights.
Believe. Believe at every card table
, in every coffee shop, on every golf course. Be a witness for the goals of the good. Be a witness for America. Whether you believe we're under God or not, we are one nation, indivisible. Believe it.