The Example of George W. Bush
I understand that an entertainer on the NBC special said some incredibly distasteful stuff about President Bush. No doubt a lot of folks will be pretty upset. I am taking my cue from the president, who spent the day in the company of a lot of folks who seem to have spent the last 48 hours doing nothing but blasting him in an attempt to escape fallout. President Bush said nothing about his critics, but kept the focus on the victims. W is in the business of getting the relief organized and saving lives. He isn’t taking political shots, and I doubt he’s going to, no matter how great the provocation. He’s a good man and a great president, and his example should instruct his supporters to keep the focus on Americans in desperate need of help and hope.
Please read this column on a vision of how to organize the private sector to assist in the long term recovery of the ravaged region. Think about helping NZ Bear out with our technical needs (scroll down). Think about becoming a corporate sponsor of the effort. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Here’s an example of an individual acting to get long term relief infrastructure in place. Here’s another. Here’s one blogger’s incredibly helpful effort to help motivate and recognize his industry’s outreach. Here’s the very big picture. Here’s a smaller look –one of the docs in the “ER in a truck” bound for the recovery zone is an old, old friend from Warren, Ohio. Here’s an appeal for help in reuniting separted loved ones. There is so much need, and so much to be done, that we should read and reread again the close of Lincoln’s First Inaugural:
I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Lincoln’s 1861 appeal was fruitless, but Bush’s example should not be, at least among his supporters. Here’s the close of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
The temptation to start swinging back at the entertainers, the Jack Cafferty caucus, and the long list of politicians asking for rebuke has been too much to resist completely this week, but I think W’s course is the right one. The energy of a political battle is energy not going into rescue and relief support. It is perhaps, in Christian terms, the exact time to turn the other cheek.
Radioblogger will have up later the transcript of the last hour of today’s show, featuring a conversation on the moral and spiritual challenges of this disaster for those not a victim of it or a participant in the first responders. Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. John Mark Reynolds, and Dr. Mark D. Roberts are all accomplished theologians, authors, teachers and pastors. Each has a personal story to tell of friends and/or family wounded by this havoc. I urge you to read their blogs and this conversation. The Christian response right now is not just to avoid returning rhetorical fire with political opponents, but even more so to find a way of praising the efforts of those with whom we are used to battling over politics. (Workbench’s Roger Cadenhead, for example, points to a fine effort by liberal bloggers to bring money to the effort. MoveOn.org’s “HurricaneHousing” effort is a superb bit of internet organizing to aid the suddenly homeless.) There are many center-left and lefty bloggers among the 1500+ bloggers in 24 countries participating in the blogburst. As Alex Haley had engraved on his tombstone: “Find ther good and praise it.”
This isn’t an appeal for us “to all get along.” That isn’t going to happen, and it wouldn’t be good for the country orr the world if it did. But a truce is a good thing right now, and as people come to absorb the scale of what has happened, I think that notion will spread.
I do not doubt that the full-throated attack on president will continue over the long weekend. But perhaps it will grow just a bit less hate-filled, and the recovery effort a bit more energetic, if the center-right just refuses to return fire on a Labor Day weekend which occurs just as a very long labor comes into focus.