Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The political courage to love

The Vietnam vet who confronted me on the streetcar Sunday (see previous post) has led me to a sobering conclusion.

We are one domestic terrorist attack away from electing a war-hardened John McCain as our next president.

Seen this way, the absurdly premature polls now pointing to a Democratic victory in 2008 are numbers from nowhere.

Suppose a terrorist cell, or a solitary suicide bomber (or, perish the thought, an agent provocateur) detonates a bomb in an all-American shopping mall some Saturday in the next 18 months.

Two hundred dead? Four hundred? One thousand gravely wounded. Many victims are children. Depictions of the devastation and agony are delivered again and again to the TVs in every living room in the land.

Baghdad suffers such carnage each day.

Here, once will be enough.

Will a vengeful, flag-waving, self-righteous America then vote for a Clinton/Obama ticket or Obama/Edwards? An Edwards/Richardson pairing? How about Al Gore?

Not a chance.

A “United We Stand” America will send a McCain/Giuliani or a McCain/Brownback war team to the White House.

And the killing goes on and on and on.

The important point is this: The likely winners, like all the candidates in both parties, will be, self-proclaimed “Christians.” Once again, they will be too weak, yes, too cowardly, to put into practice Christ’s most challenging commandment: “Love your enemy.”

As a people we should ask, where do we find leaders with the moral strength and courage to chance such love?

Can our system of government even nurture them? Do we, a frightened people steeped in “might makes right,” bar them from the halls of power? Would we, who venerate a Christ or a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, ever actually have the courage to elect such a person—to act in the name of love?

I fear that unless we (and here I mean all humanity) quickly evolve so that we vest such leaders with real power, we as a species are doomed.

I don’t think that my streetcar acquaintance had any of this in mind when he challenged me about my service to our country; but this is where his challenge has led me.

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