My friend Sam is a well-dressed, East Coast sort of a chap, deigning precisely once to don the less pretentious trappings of a simple t-shirt. It’s a white background, against which is set the face of our fearless leader, President Obama. Behind this imposing visage is a familiar tri-color pattern and a simple message: hope.
It is not, in this article, my goal to talk about hope, though everyone else seems to be doing just that. The stock market took a rise of late, waterboarding is a thing of the past, and Condi got called out by a fourth grader. Things are looking good, admittedly, but many of us who recall more vividly the events of the last eight years are not so keen to bury the hatchet. Some of you might recall warning friends or colleagues that they were electing little better than an illiterate zealot, and that they or someone they knew might have to pay for these irresponsible decisions.
And yet, time and again, America witnessed the Triumph of the Lemmings.
The question that begs my mind most adamantly is not one of hope, then, but one of forgiveness. Ought nine finds the American people on the bitter end of a bad divorce, betrayed by our leaders and citizens in a relationship that, despite eight years of togetherness, has left both parties shamed and beaten. Before we dare to hope, America must learn to forgive.
This is a tall order – most of you have probably shared in the sense of anger and disgust which for so many of us has defined the relation of Americans to their government for most of the last decade. Kierkegaard might caution us that despair and anxiety are the precursors of hope and salvation. Conversely, many philosophers would attribute this to sentimentalist hooey. And we, each in our own hearts, must find the strength to answer a question whose darkness still shrouds the allegedly “bi-partisan” dynamic of our newest administration.
To ease the pain, we might notice that the Republican Party is more or less collapsing. With Bush, Romney, and Cantor taking flight from Washington, Obama has four years (dare I say eight years?) to restore the glory that once was us, before the series of goofy wars from which America has recently struggled to free itself. In light of our above-mentioned progress, and this karmic development for Cantor ‘n Friends, can the liberals of our time finally look our fellow citizens in the eyes?
This is a question that we all have to answer on our own accord, and I will posit my response. The answer, as we say in philosophy, is contingent. The sort of anger incurred by the blatant and recurring failures of the Bush entourage might be viewed as a response to danger, an alert from our own minds and psyches that something has gone horribly awry. Now that the threat is past, it is a defensible assertion that this consequent anger has outlived its purpose and/or use. My question, then, is: has the threat truly passed?
Has the Republican Party learned that theistic fundamentalists have no place in our political community? Have war-mongering hawks finally conceded that they might wish to respect the lives our brave if ill-directed young warriors? Has it at long last sunk in that liberty, equality, and peace should be the core tenets of any administration which dares to invoke the admittedly sullied name of America, the once-beautiful, as per those basic axioms laid down in our oft lip-serviced Bill of Rights?
I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that plenty of the people responsible for this sordid affair are known to us as friends or relatives, and that I should caution myself against talk of peace while harboring so much hatred for the wrongs of yesteryear. My challenge, to myself and to my readers, is that if we are to carry this resentment into the next decade, that it be a tempered vigilance, an edifying caution against the consequences of bigotry and ignorance, and not the subversive sort of resentment of our most bitter victimhood. If we are called to lash out, then so be it, but for my part I hold that forgiveness might bring unity, and, depending on what remains of our faith in humanity, even love.
It sounds like a tall order – perhaps this is what is meant by talk of hope.
Redpillneo is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.