Point of View: Let’s Lighten Up

Can it get any worse?

We saw a horror movie the other night as an antidote as it were for the reality that surrounds us. Can it get any worse? Yes, yes it can, but don’t tell, don’t want to give anyone ideas.

I’ve been meaning to read “Coriolanus” again, knowing that it treats of a tyrant, though one, I think, bred of the left. Still, it ought to be instructive. 

It seems that our aspiring tyrant is forever incensed by anyone who has any sense. 

I would say yes, exit the Mideast, were it not for the fact that much of its anguish can be traced to us, and that therefore we’re obliged to try to undo as best we can the chaos that’s ensued. No, we alone can’t solve the world’s problems, but we can in partnership with allies work toward ameliorating them. 

Meanwhile, it’s obvious that we can win more hearts and minds to democracy through the examples of our free societies rather than through the bombing of wedding parties and tacitly abetting the starving of children and the butchering of journalists.

President Kennedy presented our case well, I think, in his inaugural address, but his speeches and papers are blacked out at the moment because of the government shutdown — inspirational, well-considered words being considered off limits, I suppose, at Christmastime. Now there’s democracy for you.

At any rate, it is clear that one branch of the government ought not to run roughshod over the other, the whole idea apparently being that with debate, rather than rigidity, a balanced tension was to be forever maintained when it came to issues of governing. Something, I suppose, like a Calder mobile. 

I think I’ll read Joseph J. Ellis’s “American Dialogue” soon too. It deals with some myths attributed to our founders, to wit, that they all were for small government and were “originalists” when it came to the Constitution. They were, in fact, of different (yet not closed) minds.

Adams, according to Ellis, proved prescient in saying that a strong national government would be needed to counterbalance the wealth and power that he thought would inevitably wind up in few hands, and that, to quote from Jeff Shesol’s Nov. 4 New York Times review, “the free market required regulation for capitalism to coexist with the egalitarian expectations of democracy.”

And Madison, and Jefferson also, believed apparently that the Constitution was indeed a living document that was to be viewed in context with the times, to wit, that there was not a “single source of constitutional truth back there at the founding.”

The founders intended, then, that we debate issues, and from that debate move toward effective solutions. We were to try through the give-and-take to make sense of things, to think, if you will, rather than, with arms tightly folded and incensed, cling to certainty. 

Now is the time of lights, so let’s lighten up then.