As most Americans get ready to dine in front of a groaning board and celebrate the Pilgrims colonizing the New World, the Thanksgiving season of 2013 has a different,more somber meaning to the past generation.
President John F. Kennedy was slain on this day in Dallas, Texas. Before the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter were a gleam in any technocrat’s eyes, with modern television in its infancy, America, and for that matter, the world, saw the beginning of mankind depending less on print media for news and information. At least those of us who are literate and give a cr#p about what is going on in the world. This day began an eternal journey of determining if Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or part of a conspiracy; we’ll never know for sure. But the statement that impacts me the most is the day America buried its innocence forever! Because this statement is a half-truth. To varnish and paraphrase the late Charles Dillon (Casey) Stengel, [America’s innocence] is not a has-been, it’s a never-was!” What was lost forever on 11-22-1963 was our ability to sweep it under the rug.
Before the Kennedy assassination, we considered many (not all) of our presidents to be heroes of some sort, demigods. After JFK we experienced Nixon and Watergate, Clinton and his extramarital affairs, and George W. Bush accused of getting elected president due to the breakdown of the electoral system in the state of Florida. Not to mention, the decline and fall of brotherhood in Washington with members of different political parties sworn enemies. Truth be told, the corruption of our elected leaders go back to our Founding Fathers. This is why I say drink from the fountain inherited to us from them, but don’t become them.
Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner, wrote in the Declaration of Independence, All men are created equal, yet Jefferson refused to relinquish his slaves. George Washington, our first president, has several extramarital affairs, giving expanded meaning to signs reading GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE and to the term Father of our Country. The White House and the Capital Building were built by slaves.
Abraham Lincoln was not against slavery for most of his life, until he got elected president in 1861 and it worked to his advantage with the Civil War looming. There is no record that Lincoln ever owned a slave, but then again, he was poor. I cannot afford a BMW but I am not against BMW automobiles. Lincoln also used marijuana to ease his tension. Albeit it was not illegal back then, in fact when Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta, Georgia, its kick came from cocaine rather than caffeine. Still and all, legal or not, side effects or none, it still violates that principle of escaping from one’s problems instead of facing them head on.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the media was limited to weekly and monthly newspapers and this pseudo-news never came to print in regular newspapers.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had an affair with Eleanor’s social secretary Lucy Mercer. Unlike Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, the Lucy Mercer affair all but destroyed FDR’s marriage. Lucy discouraged Franklin from divorcing Eleanor an putting their five children through divorce as she did not want to live the rest of her life with that guilt trip. A far more damning affair pre-JFK versus post-JFK, yet FDR’s affair was easily swept under the rug and FDR is looked at by many historians as one of the nation’s greatest presidents. The Clintons are vexed to this day by his mishap.
America was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future the greatest country in the world and the greatest nation God ever allowed to come to being. But it is not perfect and far from innocent, even when it was being founded. The only difference is today, with the social media, even Job would not get elected president and leave in eight years squeaky-clean.
What keeps America in check with the world is that our elected leaders fall into the first half of John Locke’s statement, but not the second. Our elected leaders are empowered and Mr. Locke tells us power corrupts. All power corrupts. On a planet owned and operated by Satan, the weakest, kindest, innocent person once empowered, will succumb to some temptation. Everyone that lives, lived, and ever will live except for Jesus himself has and will fall short of complete glorification of God. By maintaining freedom and democracy, we avoid the second half of the Locke prophesy: absolute power corrupts absolutely. The saving grace is America will never allow any one person to have absolute power. With the media moving at lightning speed, with rumors and lies traveling halfway around the world faster than the truth can buckle its boots (Winston Churchill), no future U.S. president will ever achieve the greatness we associate with men like Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. But if we understand even The Greats were not all that great, we will survive as a nation. America will be prosperous again, but it will never be young again (paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan).