Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

An election preview

There was nothing in front of me, really, an emptiness that I would not have acknowledged back then, but recognize today. I didn't have a job. In a month, I'd graduate and simply go home having finished the college education my parents couldn't have and therefore considered an incredible opportunity, something I'd lived through without their high regard. Maybe my own fear of the future because a factor that convinced me. I don't know.

I'd just flunked an army physical for a heart condition that still has me taking daily medicines. I was alienated greatly from my own heritage and faith tradition, at odds with my parents' deeply-held political views. I knew--even lived with--Vietnam vets who'd come back deeply scarred psychologically, guys who were a mess. All of that played a role too.

Perhaps I'd begun to oppose the war because so few around me did. Most of the student body descended from hard-rock Republicanism, young men and women armed with a dynamic that valued the bootstraps with which their ancestors, our ancestors--immigrants all--had pulled themselves up and out of having nothing. Hard work was our creed, Nixon our God-ordained leader.

The news came over my radio early one morning in May. Sam Brown was promising a huge anti-war rally that weekend in Washington D.C., urging millions to come to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam. 

I don't remember making a decision to go, but I went, along with two other Dordt College students, the three of us in a VW bug. It was a life-changing experience.

I remember fault lines in our nation, in my family. I'm a veteran of those wars. I know what it feels like to be at significant odds with those you love. I've seen America around a dinner table split down the middle.

That particular episode of my life comes back to me this morning, how I became a part of a anti-war movement that cut through American life as if it were an ripe melon. I suffered through significant generational conflict, was one of those young people with a father who'd spent years in the South Pacific and had no way of understanding a son who didn't believe in American righteousness.

Back home, streets were burning from racial conflict that ran through the country like a plague. We were a country divided. My father considered Martin Luther King a social agitator, even a communist for undermining American democracy. I recognize my father's views in Home, Marilynne Robinson's second novel about a small town in the fifties, whenever the "old man," Pastor Robert Boughton, tells his prodigal son Jack that "the coloreds" would be far better off if they stopped protests and accepted their role in American culture and class.  

In 1970, I was a kid, and Lord knows I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I came back from that anti-war march on Washington, May 10, 1970, less convinced than I could define righteousness. Still, we were not a united states. 

Sometime after another very contentious election--Bush vs. Gore, in 2000--Newt Gingrich, who would become Speaker of the House in a Republican Revolution he called "Contract with America," was asked about bringing America together. He said this:  
Most Americans do not find themselves actually alienated from their fellow Americans or truly fearful if the other party wins power. Unlike in Bosnia, Northern Ireland or Rwanda, competition for power in the U.S. remains largely a debate between people who can work together once the election is over.
Sunday morning on Meet the PressChuck Todd asked Gingrich if he remembered that statement. He did. And then Todd asked the former Speaker, "Do you believe that's the case in January of 2017?"

"No," Gingrich said, as bluntly as that.

On the morning of an election that is far too close to call, it's frightening to think that no matter who wins, half of America is going to watch a person they consider the devil move into the White House and become our leader.

I don't know what's going to happen today, but what's worse is I can not imagine what's going to happen tomorrow. 


Anonymous said...

I see it as two apples rotten to the core....But God used Pharaoh and God can use either of them. If our trust is in one of the candidates we are more lost than if we had a godly man or woman win. Whoever wins, we need to pray for our nation, and our families. I can't celebrate tonight no matter who wins. It is a no win election, really. If it causes people to really begin to unite in prayer for our nation, that might be a win.

Anonymous said...

Deeply troubled that in the township of our youth, this man was espoused from pulpits, concealed carry classes abound, and Afflordable Care Act is thought to be a handout for the nondeserving. God help us. Grace seems far off this morning.

Anonymous said...

Even though Donald Trump's election may be shocking, I wonder if is a greater comment on how disappointed the American people have been over the ineffectiveness of government on the federal level. Everyone, including me, underestimated the deep, deep disapproval the American people have for the established bureaucracy. This discontent with government, is not unlike the discontent we had in the 60's for a government that failed to respond to the American people's opposition to the Vietnam War.
As a friend who voted for Donald Trump said to me, "How are we supposed to send a message to Washington that we don't like what they are doing?"

Jerry27 said...

Here are a few links for background on Viet Nam.


by Professor Revilo P. Oliver

(Liberty Bell, March 1993)

They Shall Not Go Unpunished -- Speech before the Dallas Indignation Committee; 1961: Dr. Oliver's favorite of his own speeches (mentioned here in 1993), given before a very enthusiastic audience of over 5,000. A powerful call to evict the traitors from Washington. Includes detailed discussion of the betrayal of the anti-Communist Cubans during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the mysterious CIA radio station Radio Swan on Swan Island. 62 minutes, 11 kHz, 7321 kb. listen now or download.

2. Plans for the "war" in Vietnam were formulated in 1945, long before that artificial "nation" was created. About the time that the infamous traitor and accomplice of Franklin Roosevelt, General George Catlett Marshall, was preparing to betray our erstwhile ally, Chiang Kai-shek, to the Communists, and immediately after the surrender of Japan, half of the vast store of weapons and munitions that had been accumulated on Okinawa was rushed by cargo planes to the Communist agitator, Ho Chi Minh, in Tongking to enable him to raise and arm a horde of bandits (especially from the hybrid Muongs), eager to have fun with a gun, and to kill and loot, completely indifferent, of course, to the ideological drivel ("All men are created equal," etc.) with which their chief tried to confuse observers.

Anonymous said...

I see self-pity through-out this entire post. Maybe a kick in the rear-end might help?

As a Calvinist you tout the idea of total depravity as long as it is the other guy's depravity [even if it is own parent's short-comings] You self-appoint yourself as the executive, legislative and judicial branch of the Critical of Others Society. External blaming is your cover for your own self-centeredness. Each of your reactions are based on how they affect you. No others orientation. You contributed marching and your Dad put his butt in harms way to serve others. He got it. He loved his neighbor as himself.

Have you you ever come to terms with your own depravity?

Jerry27 said...

It is by their fruits they will be known. If I presume to be a fruit inspector, I would call the traffic on this blog fruitfull.

Concerning Calvinism, I would like to see someone respond to the archive the Bavarians published in 1776 in which Weishaupt bragged about how easy pious Christian were to take advantage of.

"The most wonderful thing of all is that the distinguished Lutheran and
Calvinist theologians who belong to our Order really believe that they see in it the
true and genuine mind of the Christian religion. Is there anything that you cannot
make men believe?"