I'm beginning to enjoy our three-mile strolls. Three times a day we do a mile circuit to burn off excess canine adrenaline and, I now realize, gives me a chance to sort my writer's mind, plan my day, and offer thanks for the opportunity this thing called life has to offer. This morning my mind churned restlessly about our country's direction.
As a young girl I remember selecting a Clara Barton biography. The choice eludes me now, but I can tell you this book swept me up to the point that I didn't want to surrender it. Clara had the bravery and courage to roll up her sleeves to care for the wounded and dying during the Civil War. She personified the word "multitask”. She's the reason we are blessed with the American Red Cross. Of all the people I regard as true heroes Clara rates at the top. She's the reason I joined the Army. She's the reason I became an Environmental Health & Safety Professional. She rocked. She healed.
During that turbulent time undoubtedly exhausted herself I think I know the reason why. She believed in what the framers of the Constitution stated as this important document's intent, "in order to form a more perfect union". She became part of that process. She gave selflessly knowing that the chaos and the bloodshed would advance this country toward that goal of something imperfect, seeking, building to that of perfection. Clara Barton understood what our forefather's meant by that simple mission statement.
I wonder what Clara would think had she been born in this time? We now give witness to killer tornadoes, earthquakes, and super storms. I know she would have rolled up her sleeves to help, but what about the other stuff? What would she think about our Congress? Would we live up to her standards of care giving? What about our current debate about assault weapons? Would Clara see the same contradictions that I see? Contradictions such as:
· The Issues: (stay with me here)
oSocial Security: My parents and I contributed to Social Security during our lives, now it's been branded as an entitlement, rather than a "pay it forward" mechanism to lessen the blows of old age. (Trust me, with both my parents getting old redefines "difficult". )
oCongress: Clara lived in a world that struggled for the necessary medical items to bandage wounded soldiers. She relied on her countrywomen to send bandage rolls. Congress had funded a war it couldn't afford. Today Congress spends to support a twelve-year war, yet balks at paying the bill when it comes due. They work to cut veterans' benefits and turn their backs on the families who become the healers once their soldiers come home. Another contradiction rests in the fact that the same folks who demand their right to an AR-15 be preserved are the same who want to cut funding to the Department of Defense.
oLife, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Constitutional rights. Necessary elements toward a more "perfect union." Americans, all Americans are entitled to life, to freedom, and to strive for that subjective, sometimes elusive, emotion, called "Happiness". Many a night I doubt Clara thought of happiness, she worked to heal others so that they might enjoy those Constitutional privileges because they fought for what they believed. Would Clara agree that the right for a child to go to school, a movie, a mall, or a public gathering without getting shot should be protected? What about the parents' rights to raise a healthy family, rather than stare into a child's empty bedroom knowing that child isn't at a slumber party. That child has gone forever.
o2nd Amendment: Clara saw firsthand the ravages of a Civil War round hitting its mark many times over. After an eyeful of wounded, dying, and dead, maybe she'd ask herself, "Who requires 60-100 rounds to hunt? Perhaps a trip to the ophthalmologist is in order? Is resting in the knowledge that safety and security of our future trumps the right of owning a heavy duty piece of metal/plastic that can upend the future of our country?
oSecession from the Union: Yup, Clara saw the dirty that little decision caused. Why strive toward a more perfect union when states can cut and run off on their own? Such actions say, "we don't believe in working toward a perfect union". It reveals a disassociative demeanor requiring medication. It takes more courage to work within a democracy than to pull back from it. The idea of a more perfect union requires a key ingredient for its success. That ingredient’s name is compromise. Holding a government hostage isn’t compromise. Insisting on one way, rather than meaningful discourse, isn’t compromise. Undermining one’s own party isn’t compromise. Democracy craves courage, compassion, and reason to craft a perfect union. Clara lived civil war and it wasn't pretty.
I don't belong to any political party. My heroes are my heroes. Winston Churchill, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton are chart toppers along with Clara. These are my top five.
Before any American goes off the charts, perhaps reading about her wartime experiences might be a game changer. I'm going here . Clara might just shed some light on this country's madness.
I hope our country never goes to war again, civil or otherwise. If things go bad, I pray I’ll be like Clara. I pray I’ll be a healer.