" You Are On Your Own Or Will We Support One Another ? "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
What is the purpose of government ? Does the country's political system provide assistance and services to it's citizens or do we provide for ourselves ? Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay " Self-Reliance " wrote:
" It is only as a man puts off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. Is not a man better than a town? Ask nothing of men, and in the endless mutation, thou only firm column must presently appear the upholder of all that surrounds thee. He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head." Self-Reliance - Ralph Waldo Emerson Textswww.emersoncentral.com/selfreliance.htm
Some have interpreted this as a blueprint to encourage citizens to take their own responsibility for everything in life. Yes, as humans we are responsible to take care of ourselves, our health, our livelihoods, our children and our families. Yet, there are instances in life when tragedy befalls us when we least expect it. You lose a job, you lose a spouse suddenly, you lose a child to war.
When I saw Ghazala and Khizr Khan talk about the loss of their son U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 at the recent Democratic convention, I thought about how brave and dignified they were to be able to share their grief in publicover their son's death . I also thought about all of the other Gold Star parents and families of our wars, including my cousins Richard and Virginia Gullixson ( See previous blog "A Family Transformed By War " ). Losing a son or daughter, husband or wife or partner or father or mother, grandparent, uncle,niece,cousin is excruciating for a family. The last thing you would expect is for anyone to ask why you don't say anything about your loss.
I thought Ghazala Khan was eloquent when she said:
" When Humayun was sent to Iraq, my husband and I worried about his safety. I had already been through one war, in Pakistan in 1965, when I was just a high school student. So I was very scared. You can sacrifice yourself, but you cannot take it that your kids will do this." Ghazala Khan: Trump criticized my silence. He ... - Washington Posthttps://www.washingtonpost.com/...khan.../c46e52ec-571c-11e6-8...The Washington Post
Ghazala Khan spoke like a mother who was concerned about her son's welfare and the desire for her child to be spared the suffering she had known earlier as the result of war.
Our country is again at the fork in the road, like the Robert Frost poem " Two Roads Taken" . Do we argue that the purpose of our republic is to tell our citizens " you are all on your own, with your own resources and your own aspirations and desires. There will be no assistance extended to you, not even in your grief. "
Or, are we a country that says we can support one another ? We can extend assistance and support, when needed and warranted, to those who seek sustainability financially, vocationally, familiarly and spiritually.
We are a great country and we express our greatness when we can extend ourselves in love and compassion and support to those who are truly in need, including those who suffer the loss of their family members due to war.
May it be so.