WORDS: 1,506 — It’s getting more apparent that our domestic fight to retain our democratic republic ideals is a growing concern. Yesterday, as a nation, we recognized the sacrifices and heroism of three soldiers by awarding our nation’s highest medal, each with diverse and outstanding displays of battlefield valor… two of these heroes having died while carrying out their exemplary duty. At a time when the nation truly needs heroes to believe in, there’s a lesson to be learned for those of us not military in what these soldiers did.
The echo that always seems to be associated with battlefield heroism is that phrase, “against all odds”. Those odds can be anything, from dealing with personal wounds to fight to save fellow soldiers, to putting one’s self in peril by going into the line of fire.. the hail of bullets. In the case of one of these heroes, his ‘against all odds’ was pulling his buddies from a flaming Bradley armored vehicle while he himself was engulfed in flames. As I pondered the moments in watching the testimonies for these guys in getting the Medal of Honor a question popped into my mind.. and I asked it of myself… and in here I also ask it of anyone reading this…
When was the last time I did anything that was “against all odds”? When was the last time any of us did a damn thing that was “against all odds”?
Obviously I am not talking about dodging bullets to save lives (although one might extend that to law enforcement and First Responders) for the average of us. It’s the idea that there can be some things in life requiring a sacrifice of any kind that’s greater than self and against all odds. Parenting comes to mind as one possibility. Most of us have done that and many of us have succeeded with a variety of outcomes, while many of us have also failed in some form, also with a variety of outcomes. “Against all odds” could be the odds in defying the conventionality of life… peer pressure… an authoritarian mother-in-law. But we all know that I am not talking about domestic family life here.
I am talking about… well… having the kahunas to stand for conviction, against all odds… in spite of possible consequences to ourselves or our jobs. I am talking about the national divide regarding our politics, our science, our faith in government (or in being governed at all, actually), Part of our national divide is due to impatience, intolerance, refusal to compromise, denial of truth for other “truth”, fear of some social change, political change, even a moral change. A fear of loss of some collective entitlement previously assured by race, religion, economics, social structure, political ideology. Fear of loss of power and influence. Even a fear of science as some mechanism for fearing a loss of personal/political freedoms. When we have all that fear going around it does sound a lot like a battlefield… of fear itself, as FDR once echoed.
We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us
We Americans are a self-serving, self-ingratiating, self-centered bunch. But we are entitled to that for having created, and maintained, the most powerful country in the history of the world… with that power taking the form of dominance in free governance, economic prowess, military brawn, technological achievement, scientific endeavors.. across the board superior ability. Our needs being met, we then tend to make efforts to impose our way on the rest of the world, not by overt military conquest, but by promoting the successes of our style of personal freedom and governance. In doing so we also try to impose a collective human morality in promoting human rights. With power and influence over others comes the responsibility of exercising that control responsibly. This does not mean that throughout history other countries haven’t had the same domestic level of achievement, strengths, in some areas that also feeds their national pride. But we do carry the biggest stick in the neighborhood and with that comes responsibility and part of that is maintaining the effectiveness of our own democracy. We have some 325 million different opinions in this democratic republic to satisfy.. via compromise. It’s that compromise that’s being challenged by not only an unconstitutional grab for power (January 6th, the Big Lie) but also by installing a more autocratic leadership that supports retaining a past era of racial and economic domination and entitlement, rather than surrendering to the change of a diminishing white majority.
“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and re-arranged to re-locate us to the place we were meant to be.”
What we lack are people of will… of courage, on a domestic battlefield of nationalistic idealism that threatens our democracy at it’s core freedom.. our right to vote It’s a nationalism favoring an autocratic grab for power under the incitement of an ex-president. We lack people who might have to risk the trappings of political power and influence to stand up against those who want to take the country away from its founding ideals. People who are willing to work against all odds to save the Republic, even if in a small way. People who just might fight against the conventionality of party tradition to promote the greater cause of retaining our democratic ideals. There IS a moral right and wrong to all this.. that intentional lies from misguided and morally corrupt leaders just spread further mistrust of our governmental institutions; a mistrust of our Constitution.
We send our soldiers into harms way and they go willingly.. many times, in fact. They go because their country asks that of them. As voters we send our elected leaders to service us in the halls of political power… the seats of government where debate and compromise.. the essential elements of any democracy, exist to serve “We, the people”…. not a single person nor entity, nor any autocratic and incompetent ex-president. Just by the numbers alone, the GOP members in Congress simply do not all “willingly” (or is it morally?) side with Trump and Trumpian bullshit. To this point only a very few, courageous few, have stood up for decency and democracy, and some have paid a bit of a professional price in doing so.
Of course there’s no practical comparison to a soldier under fire to save a fallen comrade or jump on a hand grenade to save his squad… but make no mistake, the moral effort and self-sacrifice, in a civilian way, regarding a fundamental domestic threat to our Republic, is no less a demonstration of moral courage at risk of falling from grace by your constituents. But I say, so what. Oh sure, easy for me to say because I didn’t go through all the time, expense, and work.. often involving a sacrifice for the entire family, to get elected in the first place. Here’s a heads up from just an average citizen….
Senator/Congressman/Congresswoman, you got elected because you convinced your constituents you could serve them given your views on issues that matter. At least I hope that’s what you did as one hopes no one is running for elected office just to go after the family bennies, a paycheck, benefits from outside revenue streams… some sort of “easy street”. The reality is that our Constitution allowed you there, in the Capitol, with the responsibility to protect it.. and protect the Republic for which it stands. To do that you have to play the game of honest debate leading to compromise in order to create and/or support the best legislation that affords your constituents, and all Americans by extension, our collective life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. No one guaranteed your service would be a cakewalk. No constitution guaranteed your political immortality…. or a sympathetic press… or some presidential appointment. One might presume that part of what got you elected in the first place was how you demonstrated a moral balance along with your political views. The pandemic is going to get worse, certainly in the short term ahead.. and that alone will lead to the same problems of a meandering economy, more spending bills to ease social pressures, more unemployment/employment shifts… and wild mental health issues. Add that to the great political divide that is still simmering after J6.
What am I suggesting? Get the courage to jump on that political hand grenade to divorce your support from Trump and Trumpism and save your own self-esteem and our Republic. Of course there are valid issues and concerns currently representing Conservative views, but we can address that as the Constitution has provided us to do. But make your move smartly. Go out with the biggest bang possible to your reasons… form like-minded alliances, and maybe even form a splinter group that can manger its own hometown support. The worst case? Look at Cheney and Kinzinger and a couple others that did their own grenade-jumping. They ain’t dead yet.
All it takes is courage… against all odds.