Wednesday, April 07, 2004

But it doesn't have to be this way

The past days the news has been full of accounts from Iraq of Americans burned in their vehicles, their charred bodies dismembered and dragged through Iraqi streets; of servicemen dying in greater numbers than during much of the actual fighting before George II pronounced hostilities ceased; of rumors of carpet-bombing Iraqi cities where increasingly it appears that the heretofore enemy Shia and Sunnis have found a common enemy in their American occupiers. In Washington the news has been dominated by one after another former Bush administration figures testifying to the needlessness of the Iraq invasion and the obsession the boy prince and his neo-conservative cabal had with Iraq from the beginning, even in the face of 9-11 and the evidence that a very real threat existed in an Al Qaeda the Bushies had failed to take seriously.

My heart aches as I read of these young lives snuffed out for no apparent reason and of Iraqis who feel so desperate about their situation that they are willing to engage in suicide bombing and suicidal resistance. But my head absolutely reels when I read the polls showing that a resolute 43% plus of the American public simply cannot abandon this embodiment of the Peter Principle currently occupying the White House. Even worse are the polls from Florida suggesting that Bush remains seven points ahead of Kerry in this state where the last election was stolen from the true winner, Al Gore.

It is times like these that I despair for my country and my fellow Americans. I continue to believe that in our heart of hearts we know better than this. And I also believe that our election is not merely a matter of our own privilege, though one might not know that given the booming sales of SUVs in the face of record gas prices and wars to secure its supply.
This election is ultimately about the world and our relation to it. It is about the ultimate health of our planet. And the cavalier response I am seeing in the American public thus far is frightening. We really do seem to be numbed by the bread and circuses playing out in our media which continues to confuse entertainment for information.

And yet, in the midst of these throes of despair, I find myself yesterday at Barnes and Noble, sipping my coffee, listening to some wonderful music, surrounded by books detailing the noble thoughts of humanity, its artistic, architectural and engineering genius, its beauty and its glory. And as I have felt on numerous occasions recently, most often when I watch children singing, playing music or acting, I am struck by the enormous potential for good of the human race. We really can be just below the angels, as Pico della Mirandola, the advocate of the Florentine Renaissance, proclaimed.

So, why are we so intent on waging needless and destructive wars? Why do we bury our heads in the sands while the waters of global warming encroach? Why do we devote our lives to the trivia of who will be voted off the island or who will endure the bed of worms or the jump from the bridges while tied to bungees? Who is this human race, so noble in possibility, bearing the image of G-d but so often settling for the lowest common denominator of banality?


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.