"Morality and Politics:
March 16, 2006
Editor's Note: Chris Bent views the world stage and the issues facing America from an unusual perspective. Following Yale, he pursued a career in the Navy serving several years as a Navy Seal. Among his assignments were leading astronaut recovery missions for Gemini VI and VII and the first Apollo mission. After a career in retailing in department stores in New York City, he retired and worked full time in homeless shelters. He now resides in Naples, Florida where he and wife, Christina, run an extremely successful fashion jewelry business. When he submitted his interesting piece reflecting on today's America, I inquired why there was no specific mention of President Bush. Chris answered, "I intentionally kept President Bush's name out of it in an attempt to make this less polarizing. He is good, probably had the best people ever around the Presidency, but the times, circumstances, and his style are a tough combination. His Achilles heel is his impromptu speaking..... when it is from his heart it is a little better... but not a good speaker when non-scripted. There is a lot of country boy in him... his strength and weakness...can we do better?? Where are the better guys?? Maybe at Harvard??? I prefer a farm, heartland stock."
To this member of '62 it seems that the world was a lot better off back in our days... not that the Cuban Missile Crisis wasn't real... and that that President wasn't the moral leader I had hoped for..... and that the Cold War was not long, treacherous, and frightening.... that all kinds of leadership did not emerge unscathed... how soon we forget how difficult it is to keep the world stable enough with checks and balances that our grandchildren would be facing something a little less grim.
Today, we assault our bastions of political power as if they were the greater evil. We have refined criticism into our daily sport. And, in doing so, undermine, very successfully, all that took so long to build. Structures, laws, and values are under excruciating "review" from all quarters. The greater good is diffused and obscured from the hopeful. Better to raise a kid on the farm than in the city.....?? Maybe more true than ever.
Regardless of your side, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, moral decay is there and the fluoride is no longer in the water! Our convictions from our founding fathers are getting lost in litigation, self-doubt, and mocked disciplines.
Don't get me wrong, we ain't no Rome....but are we? Muslim fundamentalists reckon we are. Their threat is mortal, not just ideological.... They don't talk, they kill.
So where do we go? If you have convictions, others believe you. But as a people we have let our convictions get bandied around and we are seen as weak and hypocritical.
If it weren't for our military strength, our 911's could be ten-fold... think about it. It is so easy to blame our government. But it is we who are at fault for not demanding moral certitude at the polls. Our future really depends on the pendulum of morality. There is a moral high ground that is real, though difficult to sustain without belief, hope, positive only attitudes, and faith... Let us not do any more discrediting of the latter.
Our grandchildren deserve more than we are handing them. They deserve black and white values that we reclaim as sacred. They need moral barometers with which to discern deviations from truth. We need to take a stand on the poisons that are reaching our youth too young, be it in print, film, Internet, or even games!
Why have we become so liberal (trying not to use a political buzzword) that nothing is really wrong, that evil has a rationale, and we have more compassion for the deviate than the struggling poor? Where is our vision? Protest has become a game to be played with the wrong people at the wrong time. Most of it is all too pathetic and not serving our vision or youth. Self-absorbed self-interest for special causes pollutes the macro.
No President can navigate all the political disrespect that is seldom constructive. A real leader takes a stand and exposes his beliefs. Not to like the stand is OK, but not to know where he really stands inside is deceit. All politicians, businessmen, citizens, immigrants, and clergy must be more transparent and courageous.
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and others could give a rat's ass about us other than our money and military. And they are not going to get more polite, less dangerous, or more rational. It is idiocy to think they are going to see the light. It is time for someone in this beautiful world to take stand for right and wrong. To worry about offending someone in the process is juvenile intellectualism and ....all too often.... a sensitivity enabled in our institutions of higher learning.
The "bottom line" mentality has become a perverse theology that subjugates the spirit of the individual to false protocols. Corporate leadership is experiencing nadirs. The pay is obscene, the CEO qualities suspect. Trust has evaporated. Litigation has replaced the handshake.
Iraq was a disgusting zenith of human rights abuse, corruption, injustice, and terror. To continue to look the other way in light of the emerging formidable architecture of state sponsored terrorisms would be as foolish as declaring Hitler a panacea. All prior administrations were wrestling with this awareness. Where to turn? The United Nations was dysfunctional. We are no longer talking about endangered species, whales et al.. we are talking about fellow human beings being treated as worthless objects to be desecrated and killed.
I have no argument with a President finally taking a stand. Regardless of your personal opinion of this President or the last, the Presidency deserves more respect. We elect human beings to these offices, Congress, and the Senate. In a few years we can have our pick... Which is better?..... the Clintons, Deans, Pelosis??? or the McCains, Rices, and Giulianis??? We will have to think deeper about it. Let us no longer continue to dither away opportunities to lead with internal dispute and attack.
Watching the networks and their talk shows is tantamount to de-education. Rodney was right.... There "ain't no respect" no more. Wake up America, the solution lies in your past. Put the 10 Commandments on the front page of the NY Times. Until then Sitcoms are Better. Godspeed my friends.
(Chris's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)