What a strange week this has been -- the death of a courageous American, President Gerald Ford, and the execution of a dictator, Sadaam who hated everything President Ford stood for -- integrity, the welfare of his country above self, a devoted husband and father, and one of the heroes of my life. This is also the week that American dead has gone over 3,000 souls. A generation has been wounded and maimed in an unending war that should never have begun. How hasty we humans are, making decisions without considering the consequences of our actions. How will they effect others? Who will truly pay the cost of my decisions? Everything seems so simple now, and instantaneous; but let me share a story that my grandmother told me, when she was not much older than I am now.
My grandmother was born in 1884. I was 12 when she came to live with us. One day she told me all of the things that she had been a witness to in her life: the first automobile; the first airplane; and at the time that we spoke, our country had already entered space. She would have loved the internet for the wonders that can be experienced online: the Hubble telescope pictures of the universe; photos of the earth from space; weather pictures in real time. All this and more would have given my grandmother much pleasure.
She would have, however, avoided much on the internet news today, just as I am. She would not have enjoyed seeing the execution of Sadaam. It would have repulsed her, just as it repulses me. It has been an agonizing time for me, as I carefully search for every bit of news about a President who cared more for his country than his career, while simultaneously avoiding the horrors of a hanging. You see, along with the joys that my grandmother shared about her generation, she shared something else. "In my day," she said, "people would go to public hangings. It was so popular that they would pack up the kids and a picnic lunch, so that everyone could enjoy the show. We are more civilized, now," she finished.
That conversation was in 1960. Now, nearly fifty years later, here we are. Click on the right link, and you can watch a man jerking at the end of a noose. You can replay it and share it with the kiddies. You can even bring your lunch. Gee, I guess we're not as civilized as my grandmother thought.
I hope and pray that every family who has lost a loved one in Iraq, and those who are waiting for one to come home, will have a safer and gentler 2007. And I pray that my grandmother's dream will become reality, that we will truly become more civilized.
With much love for the New Year.