Lindsay Graham has gotten my attention and appreciation over the past two weeks with his memorial to John McCain and his humorous, solid description of the court room. His apology to the circus was funny and descriptive—“not entertaining and not fit for children.”
I watched Brett Kavenaugh’s daughters as they observed the proceedings. I tried to imagine Mr. and Mrs. Kavenaugh telling their girls they can break glass ceilings and one day they could sit on the Supreme bench, a Governor’s chair, or in the Senate chamber. After watching the nominee run the gauntlet of Borkers and then being subjected to insane questioning and protestors paid out of a paper sack, I wonder how inviting they see it.
I’m concerned about youth watching these hearings and the abuse of government officials deciding that public service is a terrible career choice.
Brett Kavanaugh’s self-description reached into my hostility lined bag of sarcasm:
“I am an optimist. I live on the sunrise side of the mountain and not the sunset side.”
Chris Stirewalt, writer, historian and political commentator writes in his Half-Time Report:
HOLY MOSES, WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE
The biblical story of the children of Israel is one of forgetfulness.
When the Israelites forget the God of Abraham who made them and protects them still, they suffer the consequences at the hands of a succession of sufferings in a cruel and fallen world. Sometimes it is in Egypt, sometimes it is in Babylon and sometimes it is in an occupation of their own promised land.
In their pain they cry out to their maker for release and relief, and they are delivered. But even before Moses can return to them with the law, Aaron and the others are already forgetting themselves and the great Jehovah who rescued them. Their leader finds them already worshiping at the feet of the golden calf.
It is the story of the ancient Hebrews, but it is also very much the story of Americans. When we forget the suffering brought on by our failings we are sure to fail again.
Americans are watching today as generation passes on in poignant fashion. The split-screen remembrances of Aretha Franklin and John McCain are meaningful and moving on their own. Two extraordinary lives of achievements that can never be equaled.
No matter your language, faith, color or creed, to listen to Franklin sing “How I Got Over” would make any person at least consider the possibility that God is real and His spirit is in our midst.
No matter your politics or preferred policies, McCain’s sacrifice for the country he served would give even the most cold-hearted cynic reason to think that there is something truly exceptional about our nation.
But there is something instructive about what is happening to their generation and to our country in this moment.
Baby Boomers’ ascendance changed the world. What was, at the time, the largest age cohort in American history essentially invented the concept of adolescence, bent the titans of industry to their whims of taste in culture and commerce and reinvented our politics.
The generation’s arrival into adult life was marked with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the 15 years that followed our country endured an era of disruption and upheaval marred by profound corruption in the government, America’s first defeat at war, domestic insurrections in our largest cities and a crisis in confidence about the American experiment.
Franklin knew well the wrenching pain that surrounded the struggle for the descendants of slaves to know real equality in the nation that had denied it to them and their forbearers.
McCain knew well the consequences when our government lies about the conduct of war and demands the sacrifices of its people in pursuit of unclear objectives.
But we are forgetting their lessons.
We live in an era where issues of race are recklessly exploited for narrow political advantages. We also live in an era where the very definitions of truth and accountability are in doubt.
Part of the reason we are so careless in playing with matters so potent is that those individuals who lived through the consequences of our past forgetfulness are leaving our presence. We are losing our collective memory as we lose those who paid the price when we had lost our way before.
We join our prayers with those in mourning but we pray also that we will not have to suffer so much as the generation before in order to learn the same lesson of the Israelites.
- (c)2018 D. Dean Benton
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