Thursday, January 24, 2013

Women In Combat

I have to admit, I'm really surprised I haven't heard a gigantic howl of rage over Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's announcement yesterday that the Department of Defense was going to lift the ban on women serving in ground combat units.  Other than reading . . . somewhere . . . a series of Tweets from a former staff member of the McCain/Palin campaign that men fight for women, and how can we expect men to fight with women when they will want to protect them, it's been relatively quiescent.

Which may mean nothing.  Or it may mean the howl is just delayed.

In any event, since women already serve in a variety of combat positions, have faced hostile fire, and, as a guest on "Talk Of The Nation" said today, the whole notion of "front line combat units" is losing meaning in contemporary forms of combat, maybe most folks are bowing to the inevitable.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Up To The Task

We ask too, almighty, that where our path seems blanketed by thorns of oppression and rippled by pains of despair, we ask for your guidance toward the light of deliverance and that the vision of those who came before us and dreamed of this day, that we recognise that their visions still inspire us. They are a great cloud of witnesses, unseen by the naked eye but all around us, thankful that their living was not in vain. - Myrlie Evers-Williams
Hearing Myrlie Evers-Williams invocation at today's inaugural ceremony, I started to wonder if it is possible that we might yet be America.  Her invocation of the image from the Letter to the Hebrews of the great cloud of witnesses, what we profess in the Creed as "the communion of the saints", made me think it is still possible that we could rise above the madness and pettiness of our current moment and really be the place that so many dreamed we could be.  That we could the land Ms. Evers-Williams' first husband died trying to achieve.  Perhaps, not only his eyes, but those of the men and women, the slaves and Chinese coolies, the Spanish-speaking peasants and Gaelic-tinged Irish immigrants, the original inhabitants of the lands, all those who trudged through the filth of American bigotry and hatred and will to violence never surrendering the belief that America could be what we always say we are - those dreams and hopes, the shattered lives and broken bodies might yet find satisfaction when America becomes.

At first glance, there seems little chance this will happen any time soon.  The forces resisting this President are powerful.  All the same, the forces resisting even the possibility of an African-American President were powerful before 2008.  Indeed, if anyone had asked me as late as 2004 if it was even possible we could have an African-American President in my lifetime, I would have said no.

Now, we celebrate his inauguration for a second term.

Without minimizing the nearly insane vitriol, the almost psychotic reaction among those who oppose the very idea a person such as Barack Obama would presume to be President, I do believe it possible to satisfy the hopes and dreams of those who have gone before us.  It will take work, and a refusal to settle for anything less than America being America.

With her words, Ms. Evers-Williams has reminded us that this time, our time, presents us not only the challenges that all historical moments offer.  We are reminded that it is not just for us and our posterity that we are to work; the debt we owe to those who have gone before can only be repaid when America tries to be America.  Let us accept the grace of Divine Providence to lead us down that narrow, thorny path.

Virtual Tin Cup

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