the thin red line

This is worth a re-read, or a first read.

What Should Obama Do About Syria?” by Dexter Filkins for The New Yorker.

Our nation is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. Our children are hearing “I have a dream” repeatedly on NPR. They hear our President’s voice, they recognize it, they admire him and are proud that I worked for him as a volunteer on his first presidential campaign.

I cold-called undecided voters back in 2008. I spoke at length (for a cold-call) with a grandmother in my county, a registered Republican whose grandson was serving in Iraq. She was angry. She wanted her grandson home, and Senator McCain’s rhetoric worried her.

I told her then that I understood. That the reason I backed Obama from the start was because, solely because of, his reasoning on Iraq. His opposition to the war, since early October of 2002, was something I remembered. To me, it reflected measured judgment. Prudence. Caution. He was the kind of Democrat I liked. The kind of anybody I like, actually.

That grandmother told me that I was the most reasonable sounding person to call her that election season. She told me she would vote for Obama.

I wonder what she’s thinking now.

I know what is said in public — on a campaign trail, in a speech — means very little when it comes to having actual information in your hand, details unavailable to the rest of us. I know that the President, no matter who he (and someday she) is, will do things that surprise, disappoint…

I want desperately not to be disappointed in the coming days. I have a sad feeling that I will be.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

Could those lines apply to one nation protesting the actions of another nation?

I think they should.

the only thing we have to fear

Watching a television program on the environment, I asked my husband if he worries about the health of the planet by the time our children are middle-aged. He said, “I worry, but there are other things I worry more about right now. It’s harsh out there. People are harsh. You try to teach your child principles, how to behave…”

“But you need them to understand a good defensive strategy, too,” I added.


I told him then about our daughter witnessing, just a couple days ago, a man eating food out of a wrapper in a parking lot, quickly, and then dropping the wrapper on the ground before he got in his car and drove away. Our daughter was shocked. She could not get her mind around why somebody would litter. She went on about it for a solid three minutes–a pretty long time for a seven-year-old talking to me and her five-year-old brother.

“There are people out there who don’t think that what they do matters,” I offered. “They don’t think it affects other people, or the planet. They just don’t think that anything they could do on their own would bother anybody else. There are people out there like that. It’s almost like they don’t think they matter,” I said.

“Well, littering is really bad.”

“Yes, it is.”

I told my husband I was almost sorry to see her understanding of the world challenged, but also, in a way, relieved. Relieved that she’s seeing that people don’t always do things that make sense.

Because it happens, on a near constant basis. It scares me.

But as long as the kids know that it’s what they do that matters, how they react to senselessness, that they always have control over themselves. They always have a choice… As long as they know that, I’m less scared. For them.

But as for the rest? All those out there that don’t see their own behaviors as contributing to a larger pattern, a greater impact? They terrify me.

I was encouraged though, that our daughter did not conclude that the littering man was bad or scary. She just thought he did the wrong thing; he just didn’t know that it was wrong to litter… that if he just knew what it meant, he would do the right thing.

Sometimes, I wish so hard that I were seven, and fearless. And confident.

debate reaction at our house

My independent spouse, during the first two questions: “Romney is doing well…”

Later, “He’s a consultant. He’s really smart, he talks fast, but he does not know who his audience is. He’s falling apart.”

My independent spouse–he can smell b.s. from about two miles away. That smell rarely fades.

Meanwhile–for all the punditry crying about the President not “fighting back.” Give me a break. He’s the President. (There are also these things called campaign funds and SuperPACs that are going to take Romney’s inconsistencies, lies, and other nonsense and turn them into beautiful ads.)

Here’s what I kept thinking of, where President Obama is wearing the flag shorts…. (click the link. It’s inspirational, really and truly.)