Being a leader, a President or a Prime Minister brings with it an awesome responsibility. That responsibility is brought home in a real human way in times of war.
We in the United States will have an election in November of 2016 to choose a leader, a President who will bear the grave responsibility of possibly sending men and women off to war to possibly die or be injured and to bring death to someone else’s child or parent.
The voter has a responsibility to vote for a human being who realizes the power and responsibility that the position of President brings with it, and the gravity of being responsible for life and death.
A poem by John McCree entitled “In Flanders Fields.” speaks to that responsibility of having the power of life and death.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset a glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
if ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.”
In choosing a leader, a President or a Prime Minister we must choose someone who can feel the death and pain of each soldier that we as a people send off to war. We need to choose someone who can speak for the Dead, and the living.
Abraham Lincoln aged before our eyes and with each new wrinkle on his face and in the deepening recesses of his face we know that he felt for those that he had sent off to war. When he visited the soldiers in the Capitol building and saw the blood becoming encased in the marble floor of our nations capitol he knew in every sinew of his body the awesome responsibility of being a President, a leader of the United States.
War is not some video game, where you push a button and no one gets really hurt. War is about life and death.
One got the feeling the night of the fifth Republican debate that there were several Presidential aspirants who really lack the necessary humanity to be President of the United States. Do any of you actually believe that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Chris Christie could speak for the Dead and carry that torch so eloquently spoken of in the poem about Flanders Fields? Do any of you really believe that any of those gentlemen really care about human life?
Ted Cruz seemed to relish the prospect of killing civilians. In his justification for making us safe, does it justify indiscriminate killing? Man has developed a body of laws to prohibit such wanton acts of knowingly killing innocent bystanders. Wars and their frequency have taught man the need to codify in law rules of engagement.
Chris Christie seemed to relish the prospect of shooting down a Russian airplane irrespective of the inherent danger that it would represent to our safety as a people, as the death of that pilot would have that nuclear clock inch forward towards dooms day. I get the feeling that the former prosecutor would actually enjoy pushing the button as if it were some video game.
WAR IS NOT A VIDEO GAME.
Mr. Trump groups people into good guys and bad guys. Life is not so simple. The people that we bomb include women and children, human life that matters, but human life does not seem to matter to him because he has spoken of his willingness to kill the families of terrorists. Trump amazingly does not understand the mind set of people who live in a tribe who for centuries have carried with them the belief in an eye for an eye. He has never served in a war. I would not for one second trust him with our safety.
I want a leader who knows in every fiber of his or her being that an eye for eye just makes the whole world blind.
The debate was about National Security. When President John F. Kennedy was President of these United States we knew that we had a leader who had the wisdom to keep us safe. His wisdom in the Cuban Missile Crisis was quite evident. He calmly and with restraint shunned the advise of those around him who spoke of actually attacking the Soviet Union, and found better advise on how to avoid a nuclear winter. He used diplomacy. He found a way to work our way out of danger, and he did not move us closer to nuclear annihilation, but rather towards a peaceful conclusion of the crisis. We knew when we went to sleep at night that we had someone in the Oval Office, who had the wisdom to keep us out of harms way.
I doubt very seriously that those who spoke of war on the stage in Las Vegas this week have the wisdom to protect us and make us more secure. Sometimes war is actually not the answer. We should use restraint and look into every option before we send our men and women into harms way on the field of battle. The American people may want to feel more secure but does that make it imperative that we send ground troops, boots on the ground into harms way. Is it not someone else’s fight? Just the phrase boots on the ground dehumanizes the whole essence of sending people, real human beings into battle. It is our sons and daughters that are of our flesh and blood that sacrifice for us here at home. War is not an abstraction it is far too real.
Strength and safety do no come from just choosing war as a first resort. We will only be safe if we do not lose our humanity. We can and will hold our heads high if we do not stoop down to the barbaric level of our adversaries. Our adversaries, who speak of God, only bring shame to their faith by bringing death to innocent people. Let us in our attempt to be safe from the scourge of death and destruction keep and be truthful to our faith and our Constitution and do not forsake our honor in the mistaken belief that we can still be the good guys and girls in the white hats if we do as they do.
I saw a picture the other day of our wounded warriors. This picture was different from any picture I have ever seen in that this was a picture of young women who now live with new limbs, as they have left theirs on a battlefield in a far off land. It was a tearful moment, but with their glowing smiles of the wounded in that picture, my faith in their humanity raised my level of hope in our future.
This is the holiday season, a time of family and the rejoicing of what the original Christmas represents, a time of birth and a time of renewal during our winter.
As we go forward into the new year, may we have the wisdom to choose a leader, a new President, someone who can pick up the torch of liberty but also pick up the torch of the fallen. We need a leader who only chooses war as a last resort.