Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Simple Dignity and Courage

"Dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially from violence that can never be justified. It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity."
Hillary Clinton

Blame it on my advancing years moving far too swiftly from early middle age to what comes after or a desire to eagerly embrace the attitude of a master curmudgeon I have come to despise the practice of institutional scapegoating. That being said I realize it is near impossible to name a group or person who has never looked for a convenient pasty to take the blame for some tragic mistake or accident. While scapegoating is distasteful and wrong it is an unfortunate part of human nature.

When taken to the extreme though scapegoating moves beyond our primitive, darker nature into the realm of evil. Needless to say anyone who works within the domain of politics probably has to possess a standard list of scapegoats within close reach for those times a disaster or defeat happens during their time in office. The very idea of a sitting politician going on television and looking into a camera and saying, “I screwed up and will take responsibility for my actions” is a surreal notion best left for fantasy movies and novels. However, I honestly don't know which is worse, the lying politician looking for a scapegoat or the unwashed and barely literate and aware masses that usually accept such explanations. Whatever the case, neither the conniving, self serving politician nor the general population that refuses to look deeply into complex issues says much for the future of democratic governments.

This allows me to bring up the presidency of James Earl Carter. From the moment the man left office in 1981 there has hardly been a Republican politician who has not blamed him for some intractable issue the country can't seem to solve whether or not he had direct involvement with the problem or not. Frankly, while I am incredibly bias on the subject, it is hard for my stomach not to turn when someone like that intellectual giant Ted Cruz or the New Jersey Fat Boy make statements that are backhanded insults aimed at President Carter. Was the Carter presidency perfect? No, but he didn't turn the country into a debtor nation or illegally sell weapons to Iran like Reagan, nor did he and his vice president lie the country into a war that cost untold innocent lives and trillions of dollars.

None of the presidents that have left office after him have done half of what Jimmy Carter has to advance basic human dignity and democracy around the globe. He has shown how peaceful diplomacy and cooperation can move mountains while others here in the United States can only beat the drums of war.

Now incredibly President Carter has another lesson to teach us, how to face gracefully face our mortality. I cannot relate how sad I was to hear that his cancer has spread all through his body and into his brain. While others would have given up or used their illness to stoke a media feeding frenzy President Carter has largely continued his usual practices and schedule. He appears to be the one man who actually lives his faith as far as any person can be expected. It is my sincerest hope that President Carter remains with us as long as possible. When my times comes I can only hope that I show a tenth of the courage and dignity he has shown to both this nation and world.


Cirze said...

What a wonderful obituary for my favorite president.

He was not a bad president as was widely reported, only one who didn't understand that the reporting done on his efforts, much of which was purposely wrong, would be remembered by a shallow citizenry as more important than his actual accomplishments, and also a man who truly cared about all the citizens of the U.S.

One not to be outdone in any realm except the venal by any of his successors.

Thanks for the perceptive writing.

Akelamalu said...

Oh yes blame the last lot, that's what the politicians do here too. Margaret Thatcher is the devil incarnate according to some, especially now she's dead.

The Bug said...

I was incredibly sad too - and humbled by his grace & fortitude. What a great man.

Pixel Peeper said...

Yes, yes, yes...a genuinely nice person! I've always liked him, and I was even more impressed by him when I read about his war on guinea worm disease which you wrote about a few weeks ago.