I’ve been nabbed for jury duty – or at least, I haven’t been dismissed, yet. I’m going to use this downtime to post an essay by a terrific writer/friend, who provides it exclusively for Left At The Altar!
THE VERY COMFORTABLE FAITH OF GEORGE W. BUSH
Zeus, Where Are You When We Need You?
copyright, Cristina L. White, 2005
A friend was telling me recently why she had no interest in being remembered in her adoptive father’s will, even though he has become a wealthy man. She spoke of being beaten by him till she was “…black and blue…” and of being left to drown in the pool when she was a toddler. But now, she said, “…he’s found Jesus.” To him, finding Jesus means that he isn’t accountable for his abuse and neglect. He believes, she said, that “…..he’s been saved, so the slate is wiped clean.”
There it is, the essence of what I find so disturbing about the faith of George W. Bush. It’s a very comfortable religion, in which no reflection on one’s past mistakes is necessary, and no action in the present is required to compensate for one’s sins in the past.
W. does not reflect on past mistakes. He can’t remember making any mistakes. Not even one.
I may be so struck by this because I have the opposite problem; the ways in which I have hurt others, whether intentional or not, stays with me until I can find some way to mend those torn places in the universal fabric. I may not succeed, but it seems important to make some effort toward balancing the books.
This wrestling with one’s conscience goes with the territory when you grow up Catholic. Even though I parted ways with the Catholic Church many years ago, I accept that in some ways I will always be Catholic. Some might contend that a good therapist could take care of this for me, but I am certain that many of my more compassionate choices are borne out of the same dark places where thoughtlessness and pettiness once reigned. The other side of the same weighted coin.
We have a man in the Oval Office who seems to have no weight to him at all.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in his previous role as White House Counsel, seems to have made a point of telling the President that he can’t be held accountable for the prisoners at Guantanamo, and that he needn’t heed the Geneva Conventions — those “quaint” and out-dated rules of conduct. According to Gonzalez, it’s all right to torture people who might be terrorists, it’s all right to imprison them without filing charges against them, because you, George W., are the President, and this is war.
In Bush-World, this line of reasoning must makes perfect sense. It follows naturally from being saved. Not only is the slate wiped clean for W., it seems to stay clean day-to-day. While the sons and daughters, fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters of others die for a war that W. lied us into, while those same people kill thousands of Iraqis for Born Again Bush, the man who believes he was chosen by the Lord Almighty to be President suffers not at all, neither do any of his friends suffer.
This comfort zone W. dwells in leaves him free to do as he likes unchecked, and almost unchallenged. I find myself in an America that grows ever more frightening, where the consequences of the choices this President makes grow ever more dark. In his decisions about war, our civil rights, the economy, and the environment, W. is setting about creating a ruined American landscape. In no way are my concerns reflected in his agenda, his priorities, or his concerns. Worst still, he has no interest in hearing opposing views, no interest in what the other half of America might want, care about, or need. He grabs hold of a slim margin of victory in the last election, calls it a mandate, and strides forward into a world made-by-him, where the wealthy are made ever more wealthy, while the rest of us are left to scramble for the crumbs of this Bush-fashioned “freedom and democracy”.
When I feel helpless against the onslaught of his agenda, I remember the Greeks. In the Greek system of checks and balances, the arrogance of George W. Bush would inevitably lead him to a mighty fall. At some point, he would certainly feel the pain brought on by so much hubris. I take some comfort in watching the slow descent of his approval ratings. But if Zeus and Company were around, we would witness a more spectacular tumble. And I would be glad.
These are not sentiments you are likely to hear from a more evolved being. But I have already admitted to my faults. I like to think that maybe, if W. were shaken from his very comfortable presidential perch, he might, on occasion, be able to recognize and admit his mistakes and failings.
I know, it isn’t likely. But, being a mere mortal and fallible, I also can continue to hope.