Wednesday, April 16, 2003


I've had a thought crossing my mind in the last few days and had even done a first draft of this post when, low and behold, President Bush echoed something of the same theme in his speech in St. Louis today. So, since it appears that great minds do indeed think alike, it is time to do another post.

I began thinking about the topic for this post after buying the first Country & Western album I have ever acquired. The album is Toby Keith's Unleashed with his song The Angry American. I couldn't resist. I began to wonder why I bought it when it occurred to me the reason is that it portrays something of America that we haven't seen much of since the Viet Nam war. The song is by an American who is not ashamed to be an American. It is a song about a proud nation that is willing to stand and fight for its principles. The guy who wrote it is pretty clear what those basic principles are, too. He believes in honesty, fairness, justice and truth. This is what America has been about since the day the Pilgrims landed in the east coast of this continent. The country has been about sincerely and honestly following one's well-formed conscience and doing the right thing, loving God and neighbor, defending the weak and seeing that everyone is treated fairly. We have lost sight of this in the last several years in an orgy of self-indulgence, but perhaps times are changing.

We haven't always done a perfect job of living up to our ideals, but the ideals have been there none the less. These ideals are the reasons that immigrants from other countries, my father and mother included, have come here and been proud to be Americans, forsaking their own nationalities and heritage.

There is a unique aspect of the American character that has been on display for all the world to see in the last month or so. This unique characteristic comes, clearly, from America's Christian heritage and it is as beautiful as it is simple. President Bush today described it when he talked about American soldiers who, one minute were engaged in fierce combat with their enemies and the next were caring for and treating enemy wounded and burying enemy dead.

On a larger scale, I believe it is nearly unique in the history of man that a nation would invade another nation with no intention of colonization or conquest. America engaged in the war in Iraq for two purposes, one was self-defense, the other was ridding Iraq country of an evil, abusive government. When this adventure is over it is the sincere hope of the United States Government and its people that Iraq stands as a free, self-governing nation. This may be idealistic, but it is typically American. I think there is a good chance that this idealistic enterprise will succeed. Iraqis are already protesting in the street and that is a remarkable thing; it shows that they feel safe to do so with Americans temporarily in control of the country.

The reason I say this comes from our Christian heritage is that it displays an inherent recognition that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights". When an American soldier treats the wounds of a man who was, only minutes before trying to kill him, is that not forgiveness acted out seventy times seven? The former enemy has the same right to be treated with dignity and respect as any American soldier; Americans would not brutalize an enemy soldier just for the sake of seeing him suffer.

President Bush has been called a "cowboy" by some of our erstwhile European allies. When I was growing up this was not a label for someone who was wild and uncontrolled, but someone who was capable, reverent, hard working, independent, and confident. I think it is not a bad thing to be a "cowboy", because a cowboy is the proto-typical American. To refresh our memories of exactly what a "cowboy" has stood for in this country I quote below "The Lone Ranger Creed".

The Lone Ranger Creed!
By: Fran Striker

"I believe that to have a friend,
a man must be one.

That all men are created equal
and that everyone has within himself
the power to make this a better world.

That God put the firewood there
but that every man
must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared
physically, mentally, and morally
to fight when necessary
for that which is right.

That a man should make the most
of what equipment he has.

That 'This government,
of the people, by the people
and for the people'
shall live always.

That men should live by
the rule of what is best
for the greatest number.

That sooner or later...
we must settle with the world
and make payment for what we have taken.

That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever. In my Creator, my country, my fellow man."

Not too bad, for a cowboy.

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