Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Do we deserve our leaders?

The headline in the local paper today reads THE BEST OF AMERICA. It is all about the funeral of the former president Gerald Ford. It is ironic that now that he is dead, he is considered as having been “The Best of America.” When he was alive, like all American presidents it seems, the media could not say enough bad things about him. I remember when Gerald Ford was learning to ski. Johnny Carson had this to say about that:

“Gerald Ford is learning to go down hill with the rest of the country”

Gerald Ford, as most people know, was never actually elected president - almost like another president - George W. Bush who actually LOST the first popular election but was elected president by the electoral college anyway. In case of Gerald Ford, he was appointed to be Vice President, after Richard Nixon’s first vice president, Spiro Agnew, was forced to resign. When Richard Nixon resigned, rather than be impeached and removed from office, Gerald Ford pardoned him. This prompted another Johnny Carson comment that was a popular sentiment at the time:

“I don’t know why everyone complains about Gerald Ford, after all, you voted for him.”

I realize all this may be going into a bit of a controversial territory, but at the risk of incurring the wrath of my readers, I will simply quote Mae West who once said people could say whatever they wanted about her as long as they spelled the name right.

Where this is all going, is another issue that has been debated here at the convent off and on. I also do not have an answer to this one, so feel free to chime in, in the comments section. That issue is this:

Do a people get the kind of leader they deserve?

A few leaders come to mind. The first one that leaps to mind is Mahatma Gandhi. The site has this to say about Mahatma Gandhi:

“Gandhi encouraged Indians to boycott British goods and buy Indian goods instead. This helped to revitalize local economies in India and it also hit home at the British by undermining their economy in the country. Gandhi preached passive resistance, believing that acts of violence against the British only provoked a negative reaction whereas passive resistance provoked the British into doing something which invariably pushed more people into supporting the Indian National Congress movement.”

Ironically, the reason Mahatma Gandhi was killed was for the very reason our convent exists. Religious tolerance, or embracement if you will. He was killed in January 1948, . by a Hindu assassin that detested Mahatma Gandhi’s tolerance of Muslims. His death, like his life, ushered in an era of stability.

This brings to mind another national leader - Abraham Lincoln…
Abraham Lincoln, as it is commonly known, was the 16th president of the United States, during one of America’s most violent and bloody eras - the Civil War. Most people remember him as the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that abolished slavery. Lincoln believed that the President of the United States could abolish slavery as a military necessity. This is exactly what he did, and it caused a war. Lincoln was not without his contentious issues. For example, on September 24, 1862, after suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus in areas of the country, the administration made over 13,000 arrests (source: This is but one of other controversial issues. Lincoln too was assassinated for his views, by a man who blamed Lincoln for all of the ills that “the south” faced at the time. He was assassinated by a man named John Wilkes Booth, who, like his brother Edwin, was a noted Shakespearian actor at the time. (As a brief aside, this fact prompted one of my favorite lines by Burgess Meredith in any of his movies. In a movie where he plays a theatrical agent one of his lines is “Never forget, an actor killed Lincoln”)

But let us not forget the old adage, “one mans traitor is another mans patriot”

George Washington, the first president of the United States, as we all know, was one of the key figures in founding the United States of America. On July 3, 1776, he took command of an untrained 14,000 man army. Ultimately he lead America to victory over the British, and won the United States of America its freedom from Britain. Washington did not actually take office until April 30, 1789 when he helped shape a stable government. But George Washington was also a slave owner. Ironically while he thought that he deserved freedom, there were 184 slaves that worked at his Mount Vernon home. It is said that he did not work toward freedom of slaves because he thought the issue would tear a new nation apart. Yes, he did arrange for the freedom of his slaves, but only, as his will stipulated, after the death of his wife.

Let us consider then, another George - George W. Bush. Aside from the issues how he got elected, let us consider Americas attitude toward George shortly after what has become known as “9-11.” I remember that day simply staring at the live picture on the television as the second tower of the world trade center collapsed. My words were simply, “Oh my God. It’s gone. It just gone.”

American’s cried out for blood and George W. Bush gave it to them - by the bucket.

Since the war in Iraq began on March 19, 2003 3003 Americans have died, and 22,565 have been wounded (Source: This doesn’t consider the 12,000 civilians that were killed in Iraq, last year alone. This morning, the Daily Herald News Services reported that George W. Bush “will call for sending more troops there [Iraq] in an effort to quell violence, rather than the current strategy of training more Iraqi troops…” If this is so, a war that is becoming increasingly unsupported by the American people is about to escalate. I remember seeing a picture of American Soldiers that had spelled out “9-11” in the sands of Iraq, just after the war there started. Now ask yourselves this. What do you think made those soldiers think that Sadam Hussein was responsible for the tragedy that destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City?

When I was in the military in 1985 as part of my graduate studies then, I took a course on the causes of terrorism. In fact I did my graduate thesis on that very subject. My instructor and the head of my thesis review committee was a consultant to the United States Air Force on terrorism. He described terrorism as “a war in the shadows” and such it is. How do you strike back at a shadow?

So this is another one of those times, when I don’t have an answer for you. I don’t know if anyone can truly say they have an answer to this one -

Does a nation get a leader it deserves?

God bless you all,

Sister Julie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hvmsodSister Julie (or whatever name you really have):
You are a fraud and a liar. One can believe in Jesus Christ or Buddha, not both. Jesus Christ is the son of God, the Father. He is not the son of Buddha. God said: I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt not have other gods before me.
Regarding the 3000 plus American soldiers killed in Iraq-- do you bleat about the 40,000 plus Americans who die EVERY YEAR in vehicle-related deaths????? Like innocent Iraqis who die at the hands of religious lunatics, thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lunatic drivers. I recommend that you and your pathetic, weak cohorts do a gut check and state whose side you are on -- lunatic fanatics who will kill you given the opportunity, or on the side of Americans who care deeply about the threat that religious lunatics pose to us. Finally, were we in Iraq on 9/11, or at any of the other times our interests were attacked and innocent Americans killed?