Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Schooled By My Big Brother

I called my brother last night. I had just heard that Wilson Ramos, all-star catcher for the Nationals, had blown out his knee and was lost for the season. I was in the midst of bemoaning the National's dimming playoff chances when he reminded me's baseball, anything can happen! Then, he changed the subject to my last blog about the debate. Without saying so, he suggested in a round about way that perhaps my view of the future was overly bleak. Doug, we survived James Garfield, right? How bad can it be?

He's right. I'm as guilty as anyone of seeing the glass as half empty. The heat of the moment is a terrible/perfect time to write a blog. It's perfect for capturing passion, it's terrible for communicating wisdom. So, upon further review let me point out several worse things that our country has been through and survived.

1. The Revolutionary War.

How we even became a nation was essentially a series of miracles, punctuated by improbably fortuitous coincidences, wrapped around rare, unexplainable military victories. If there had been a Vegas betting line back in 1776 it would have had Great Britain minus 100. The over and under would have had the Empire crushing us in less than six months, seven tops. They had the best fighting army in the world. We had George Washington and a bunch of farmers. But here we are, 240 years later.

2. The Civil War

Who would ever have thought in 1865, after killing over 600,000 of our fellow Americans, that our greatest days as a nation were ahead of us? That so much death and destruction was visited upon our nation over our greatest national sin was probably divine justice. But the fact is, we paid a horrible price to free our slaves and rid ourselves of that institution, proving that God is not mocked. Despite the horrific loss of life and the destruction of cities great and small, within one generation the United States of America was being transformed into the mightiest industrial power in the history of the world. The aforementioned James Garfield was the fourth consecutive forgotten President of the post war period. You know, the ones nobody can name after Lincoln and before McKinley? So much for the notion that America is doomed without a strong leader in the White House.

3. Jimmy Carter

The first President I ever voted for was Jimmy Carter. Even back in 1976, I loved outsiders. He was arguably the most moral, decent and humble man ever to hold the office. Jimmy Carter was and is the sort of guy who you wouldn't hesitate asking to babysit the kids. And yet, by practically any measure he was a feckless disaster as a leader. One and done. Jimmy Carter had more personal integrity and a more dependable moral compass than Hillary and Donald combined. But that didn't help him lead the country. You want to watch a cringe-worthy presidential address? Google his malaise speech. Brother! My point is, whichever one of these two winds up in the White House . . . We will survive.

Sometimes it's hard to see past the junk. When you're in the middle of it, all you can see is the junk. But, when you step back and put on the magic glasses of perspective, the skies brighten. I have done that thanks to my big brother. Things are looking a little brighter to me this morning.

God bless America.