Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, "if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"
which, clearly, shows a keen sense of humor, coupled with his natural, and charming, and thoroughly disarming ability to poke fun at even himself and bring people in...
...but then, he is also quoted as saying, "I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause."
In any event, they detail two faces-- perhaps two cases -- presumably two traces of the very same man.
I have been walking down memory lane these past few days; and it is funny, hindsight being what it is -- if we are truly open to the full extent of it's offerings, we can learn so much about ourselves. Of course, whether or not we allow ourselves to tap into a greater understanding -- through an honest to goodness look back of both our faults and our successes -- it always comes down to one of civilization's most prized possessions. And, to be sure, you can never tell just by looking at it from the outside, or by appearances... as it comes from something magically delicious from the inside -- our character.
So, whether our experiences build character, or wither it away, it is up to us.
This morning, I just have this sharp memory of a man swirling through my mind -- who upon his inaugural day, came before the American people with his prepared remarks, mindful of the moment, and graciously accepted the duties of president of the United States of America.
President Obama used the Lincoln Bible when he was sworn in.
President Obama, at about two minutes into his address, noted:
"...America has carried on not simply
because of the skill or vision
of those in high office,
but because We the People have remained
faithful to the ideals of our fore-bearers,
and true to our founding documents."
He then immediately proceeded to name all the things that appear to be going wrong --
"Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred [already couldn't call it what it was]. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."
"These are indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights."
wow. when you put it like that...and that was in reference to the economy January 2009; but let us not get stuck on that side of the equation, let us take proper consideration that he knew all too well what he was getting into on this day in January, 2009.
Which makes me wonder, what do have to say now, with it being two point six years later -- you know, subject to data and statistics? Of course, some stats more measurable than others.
Then, as quickly as he brought us all down, he masterfully began our ascent over to the other side:
"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. they will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming our greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned."
have we, Mr. President?
have we put "an end to petty grievances and false promises?"
have we let go of "recriminations?" ...and tell me, just which "worn out dogma" are you referring to?
are we choosing "hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord?"
did you change all that?
Or have you just become the Commander in Chief in charge of all of it -- choosing what is petty, from what is not; proposing left-wing promises to prevail over right; uniting in conflict, and organizing against those who simply disagree with you. And is your idea of "setting aside childish things" --- "because you became man," as the verse according to Scripture further declares -- your way of saying you know better...you can choose a "better history" for us, remake the noble gift our founders gave, and fundamentally transform America, including the worn out dogmas and all, of which you do not prescribe?
In other words, was this all code or just plain double talk?
"Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom."
Now the entire transcript can be found, and read at your leisure, in multiple locations on the web. I have only picked apart the first half page. The truth is, I simply can't stomach any more of it. Not after watching how the last two years have gone down -- considering the rhetoric, the ridicule, the divisiveness, the class warfare, the attacks upon the free market, all that along with the total "collective failure to make hard choices and prepare a nation." Just where did the first impression of a president wander off?
They say that China is becoming more like US, while we, oddly, are morphing into something more like, what, Venezuela? (That last part I just made up, just a gut feeling)
Just note that the president "celebrated" the "risk-takers" (those who create the opportunity, absorbing all liability and making the investment) only for a nano-second before marching right into his true feelings: glorifying the "more often men and women obscure in their labor" -- who really make it all happen.
And speaking of hard labor, from a recent article published for the WSJ online, Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism, by Liu Junning, we may very well be misunderstanding what in fact is happening inside the Great Wall, and beyond:
"China has indeed made great strides since 1978's "Reform and Opening" in alleviating poverty, opening up to the world, and making slow steps down the road of legal reform. Yet on closer inspection, the most significant transformations from the perspective of boosting prosperity have involved loosening of control over the people, not some alchemy of power and Marxism."
Of course, China has issues; but still. Think about this.
China is leaning forward, into the new age, by choosing to go the way of loosening control, while we seem to be slipping into steeper regulations, with clear intent of strangulation of the free market, a deterioration of the private sector, while withering away at our mainstay -- the middle class; and all this, while creating cultural divides so deep -- partitioning the populace by creed, race, language, religion, sexuality, you name it. All things we said we would never do in America.
Clearly, it is with great ease to talk about making hard choices; but it takes a real leader -- one who actually respects the fundamentals of the American economic system -- to stand up with courage, conviction, and an unwavering belief, when times are tough. It takes a leader to transcend the politics of the moment, and make decisions for the betterment of the whole, for all future generations to come. It takes a leader who recognizes that doing the right thing always prevails in the end, even if it were to cost his re-election.
But this leader of ours, is acting more like a Chairman, as in, Mao, than any American president we have seen -- this whole shared sacrifice thing he keeps layin' down; this whole redistribution of wealth thing [when already the top 10% wage earners pay 70% of the tax revenues, while the bottom 40% pay absolutely nothing, and knowing he wants to take even more from the top, i.e. the "risk takers"]; this whole climate of restricting prosperity thing, penalizing wealth building thing, limiting growth thing, punishing the entrepreneurial spirit thing-- these are all anti- American things.[based purely on the ACTIONS of a president, nothing more]
Just before Obama closed his inaugural address, he gave us this:
"...But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded is a return to these truths. What is required of us is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."
-- he said, "what is demanded is a return to these truths" -- and amen to that.
and then realize, this is from the mouth of the president we have in office right now, as we speak, and then say to yourself, say what? It wasn't spoken by a Tea Party favorite; it wasn't from Sarah Palin; it wasn't from any one of the fine GOP candidates in the running for the 2012 election; it was from the
ah little one...do as I say, not as I do, let alone believe...... time to grow up, to set aside childish things.
And full circle indeed; we are back to our opening chatter of two faces, two cases, two traces of a president, past and present. We arrive full stop on a prized possession -- something that no one can ever take away or redistribute, our character. Just as the simple man (or girl), a president's character is earned; it is something that develops from the inside out, over time -- through adversity -- after failures and successes have been allowed to marinate within the psyche -- giving way to that one true spirit, flavoring our "better history" for all of time.
Perhaps as we come full circle, what we come to realize has nothing to do with the shape of the circle at all, but more about what we see inside. For there, we find a Yin and Yang Thing going on; opposite forces are demanding a president's thoughtful consideration [wow, and isn't the G thing being just so sweet about it].
Now, most Americans believe -- including many presidents -- that it REALLY would be wise beyond measure [subject to date and statistics], sticking with the foundation that works, to the Truths we hold dear; some might even say, returning to the silly childish things we come across along that path looking a lot like the nation's steadfast values and proven ideals, appearing much like the building blocks of Divine Providence....some of us really do believe in that (still).
But before I go -- let us consider that, because he is so cute and all -- Obama would never utter a humorous self-deprecating barb at himself by saying something like Lincoln's first quote on the day; and in the second, "I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause" -- something tells me it is a wee bit too late to even hope for this.
Make it a Good Day, G
And speaking of Childish Things: "Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas. Now's the time to do it," the president said -- sometime around eleven, eastern time, in a press conference -- while pointing his little finger at the sissy's sitting next to him, the Republicans...of course, in the back seat of the car already run into a ditch -- if, in fact, the Debt Ceiling is not raised. Do we need to remind you, Mr. President, what a certain Senator declared about raising the debt ceiling back in 2006? Look it up.
And another thing, you think things are bad now, Mr. President, just wait until Christmas, when everybody who received a 99 week extension of their Unemployment Benefits get kicked off the rolls, and when Payroll taxes kick back in... But who's really looking ahead with both eyes open anymore?