Friday, January 1, 2010

2010s: Decade of grief or glory?

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."--Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.

It seems to this mediocre blogger that the United States of America is tottering on a brink no less daunting than that so eloquently elicited by President Lincoln on the bloody hills of Gettysburg, PA, on that day almost 140 years ago when he spoke the lines quoted above. Today, it is not bombs and bullets that threaten the cause for which patriotism summons our devotion. The question we as Americans are root-bound to answer is whether we shall allow incivility and indecency in public affairs to drive a stake through the heart of a dream that has tickled the fancies of millions of freedom-loving people the world over for 225 years.

The notion that it is the rightful duty of any political party to design its entire strategy not on a platform of ideas but on a political pogrom against a duly-elected president and the opposition party, so as to render ineffective any attempts to rectify the abuses and deficiencies of the status quo, and thereby be once again elevated into a position of power based not on merit but on being the last party standing would surely set the nation on a course of destruction from which we would never recover. It is a strategy based on the kind of hooliganism that shut down the counting of votes in Florida in 2000 and led to the elevation of a president not by voters but by a narrow majority of jaundiced jurists.

Democracy can not withstand such an onslaught. Those of us who believed President Reagan when he called American a "shining city on a hill" and recognized that what makes a city shiny is not its neon lights--or else, Las Vegas would be the true "All-American City"--but the glow that arises from the decency of its people must now take up that "great task remaining before us" with which Lincoln entrusted us and demand that mutual respect and statesmanship be the mantra of all elected officials from this day forward, else we shall surely "perish from the earth".

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