(Vsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)– So, yeah, I thought it was daylight saving time (or Central European Summer Time) and, yeah I set my clocks ahead one hour, and yeah and I found out it’s not for another three weeks. So, like, I have this extra hour, like, I should do something with it, like… Ok, I get it. California set their clocks a head this morning at 2 a.m. on the 9th of March and we, here, set our clocks ahead on the 30th of March. Got it? (There will be a test)
I’ve been reading what’s happening at CPAC 2014 from way over here and it’s a head scratcher. I don’t quite understand the direction that the once noble Republican Party has been taking over the last several years. The party seems so out of touch with reality with few real new (and also inclusive) ideas that would move the democracy experiment of the United States forward. There’s lots of complaining but most of it is destructive criticism and very little constructive criticism with viable alternatives. I don’t think Lincoln or Eisenhower would recognize this latest incarnation of their party. It is so out there in our depleting ozone as if the last election never took place and the real voice of the people is falling on deaf ears. Red meat without condiments seems to be the order of the day. Break out the torches and pitchforks and storm the “castle!” The party today would seem to be irrelevant if they weren’t so noisy. Perhaps an attitude adjustment might be in order here. Instead of an “us versus them” approach maybe a “we” approach might work better, as in “we the people” i.e. ALL the people. I am still a shameless optimistic and still hope for a more “united” states someday. Opposition is good and leads to conversation. My understanding of opposition is a “loyal” opposition that works through compromise and dialogue coming up with doable alternatives to achieve in the end what is good for the country as a whole and not just for certain individuals or myopic ideologies. With all the shouting and breast beating, there is little room for diversity and contrary opinions. Their latest admiration for Putin’s “decisive” action in Ukraine versus the administration’s tentative and thoughtful cautiousness in response to this aggression doesn’t make sense unless one believe greatness is tantamount to war. In their thinking we are only as good as the size of our sword. That rationalization is so 7th grade (maybe even 6th grade). Diplomacy takes time and is probably not as exciting and satisfying as “shock and awe” but tends to bring about non-bloody conclusions. Physical power tends to be transitory and not permanent. Was the Cold War really “won” or did we wait out the inevitable? Was it Reagan’s message or John Paul II message that won the day? Do we have a collective responsibility to care for all our citizens poor and rich, black, brown and white or any other color? Should those who have benefited the most from the prosperity of the country shoulder most (not all) of that collective responsibility?
On this Sunday in the first week of Lent, maybe time in the desert reflecting on what positive alternatives are out there might be the order of the day for CPAC, and for the rest of us as well.
Within this context a quote from today’s gospel is salient I think. In Matthew, Satan takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world:
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
Of course, Jesus, being a man of the people responds:
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.” (Matt 4)
Is it power that is so attractive to the far right, maybe absolute power? And isn’t that the tyranny they keep harping against? Cemeteries are full of power-hungry people from history. In Brno last weekend I saw a sign in a crypt that said “Sic transit gloria mundi” so passes the glory of the world. At CPAC maybe that saying should be over the door of the convention hall not as a threat, but as a reminder of fact to do right (no pun intended) by the people as servants of them not as masters.
and so it goes…