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Some Post-Election Thoughts

In this time of political turnover, we must remember that these riots and violent protests are being perpetrated by the basest element of (I hesitate to call them) Americans.

The reason for my hesitation is my belief that to be an American is more than just where you were born or where you live. “American” is a mindset, too. One where Law and Justice are just as important as Rights and Liberty. Because without one you can not have the other.

Many Americans are upset, even angry. Some are angry about the direction we’ve been going for the last several years. Others are angry about the new direction we appear to be headed. That is our right. We have the right to disagree with each other, including about government. We have the right to speak out about our beliefs, including our political beliefs, without being punished for it.

Lawlessness is not a right. We have the right to peaceably assemble, not to riot. We have the right to be secure in our possessions, not to destroy the property of others. Riots and violent protests are not American behavior.

We lawful Americans, of all political stripes, need to disavow such behavior. We will disagree on many things, many issues. But it should be done in a healthy manner. Debate, advocacy, petitions, etc. Learn about the issues, understand them, be able to speak intelligently about them. Examine your own positions on the issues. Why do you believe what you believe? Are your beliefs self-consistent? Truth is self-consistent; your beliefs, and not just your political ones, should be, too.

Do not judge by association. Most Republicans are not David Duke. Most Democrats are not rioting. Most of us independents are not hippies. Do not let politics and politicians ruin your friendships.

A Picnic at Arlington

June 9, 2016 – Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Row upon row, section upon section, white headstones stretch farther than the eye can see. Each one the final resting place of some man or woman who served their country. Many died on battlefields around the world fighting a nation’s wars. Many are heroes, if to none other than those they fought beside.

Over 400,000 American men and women are buried here. Since the War Between the States many of America’s fallen have been laid to rest in these grounds. More are added every day. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is here. This is history, these are facts. Bravery, honor, heroism, duty. Arlington is full of these things. But too often we forget something very basic about the people the names on all those stones belonged to.

My girlfriend, Lisa, and I went on vacation to Washington, D. C. in June of this year. I have loved American history since I was very young. This was my first time in Washington, D. C. We only had a few days and barely scratched the surface sightseeing. We walked around the Mall one day. We saw the U. S. Capitol and the White House another day. I was loving it, soaking up everything like a dry sponge drinks a drop of water.

Then Thursday we went to Arlington National Cemetery. I was excited, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard, the U. S. Marine Corps Memorial, the Eternal Flame at the grave of JFK, I wanted to see it all. The most moving thing I saw in D. C. was not on my itinerary, however. Lisa knew some men who had died in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and wanted to visit their graves. As we walked, walking between the graves in respect of the dead, she would place a small glass stone on top of each headstone, to show that someone had visited their graves and let their families know that their loved one was remembered. While she was doing this, I saw something that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. It was a picnic among the graves.

A woman and her teenage daughter had spread a sheet on the grass over one grave. They had plates of food set out. I do not know who they were. I do not know whose grave it was. It really doesn’t matter who it was. But this was no desecration. There were three plates set out. These two were sharing one more meal with their husband and father.

We need to remember that those buried here are not just numbers, not just casualties of war, they are also fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. They were people and most of them left friends and family behind. They did not just sacrifice their life, but their lives. They sacrificed a chance to watch their children grow up, a chance to love their husbands and wives. And their families have sacrificed as well, losing someone they loved. Their lives have been turned on their heads.

We can’t bring their loved ones back. But we can be supportive. Laugh with them, cry with them, remember with them. Help them try to find normal again. They will never forget and they shouldn’t. The pain will never completely disappear. Don’t tell them to “get over it”, their life changed dramatically in a moment and they will not just “get over it”. They need time to adjust to a new normal. The best thing we can do is just be there for them.

Constitutional Support by the Founders

America’s history reflects a deep mistrust of authority. The strong, representative national government championed by the framers of the Constitution was a hard sell. Over the years, the Founding Fathers (helped along by generations of historians in search of “truth” and politicians in search of legitimacy) have been interpreted as disagreeing sharply and fundamentally about just what should be the right mix of Jeffersonian Democracy and Hamiltonian Republic. But in their own time, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and others put aside their differences to fight for the Constitution. They were convinced that a federal republic was preferable to more direct and decentralized versions of democracy.

From Richard C. Leone’s Foreword to Lawrence K. Grossman’s The Electronic Republic.

Finally Found It

I finally found a book I have been looking for. I have checked in various libraries over the past several years, but have not been able to find it until today. I finally ran across it at Goodwill in Vienna, WV, for 50 cents.

Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffith, is the true account of the author’s travels and experiences through the American South in late 1959. Merely by changing the color of his skin from that of a white man to the darker tone of a black man, he experienced what it meant to be judged by nothing more than the color one’s skin. For six weeks Griffith traveled the South as a member of a minority “race”.

I look forward to reading this book.