Martin LeFevre: The Sins of the Father, and Son
The Sins of the Father, and Son
After raining all night, the creek was an unrecognizable torrent during a break between storms on Christmas Eve. As I sat at a picnic table overlooking the turbulence, a car drove up on the other side. I had a bad feeling.
A young man got out and proceeded to dump packages into a nearby garbage can, obviously gifts. It took him three trips. Then he stormed off, came back, and yelled something inaudible over the raging water at a woman in the car.
My first impulse was to leave, but I had been enjoying the quiet time, and hoped the tirade would soon be over. But they outlasted me. They yelled and stomped, and screeched forward in the car. I wondered if things were going to careen into the violence that lurks just below the surface of American life.
I lost any sentimentality about Christmas long ago, but still, it was a sad scene. As painful as the performance was however, it seemed to fit the present mood and atmosphere of America. After starting a needless war and incurring the disgust of much of the world, it should come as no surprise that our social life hangs by a thread.
Of course few people here admit such connections. Americans have refined denial to the highest degree in the history of man. We are conducting an experiment in how long reality can be treated as solely a personal thing before society unravels. And politically, how long can the Bush Administration spin reality before becoming enmeshed in their web of lies?
One cannot say for certain when an individual loses their soul, but one can and must know when a people do. Individually, there are always exceptions, though as the saying goes, exceptions prove the rule. And the truth is that America lost its soul after Bush Senior's first Gulf War.
What does it mean for a people to "lose their soul?" That is a profoundly theological term after all. However, if I can avoid the tar pit of theology, perhaps one can say that soul is synonymous with the integrity of a human being, and a people.
Integrity means not only incorruptibility, but also the state of being complete or undivided. It also means the state of being sound or undamaged.
When the integrity of any system is steadily chipped away, there comes a point where the essential quality that defines it is lost. When did America begin to lose its soul? The basic soundness of the American character was eroded year after year for over 50 years by making a moral equivalency between the military attack on Pearl Harbor and the horrors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Between then, and the straw that broke the back of the American spirit (Gulf War I), there were many diabolical adventures in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Therefore George Bush Senior cannot be blamed for killing the American spirit. He just finished the job.
The same is true of Bush Junior, who, along with others at home and abroad, is trying to finish the job of killing the human spirit.
It is very telling that Bush continually refers to the vibrancy of the American spirit in his speeches. I'm sure he believes it in his small, hollow heart, but any psychologist would point out that he is trying to cover for his father's sins.
America will not regain its soul until a strong majority of Americans acknowledge that it has been lost. At the same time, the people must turn the tide of the darkness ruling this country by voting the Bush Administration out of office.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.