I’m tired today. Very, very tired. I’m not saying this to complain, or to solicit your sympathy…
I’m just stating a fact. I’m tired because in order to keep my head
above water, I have to work day and night just to make ends meet.
Again… not a complaint. It is what it is. I am not a victim, I’m just
a guy, who, like many of us these days, must do things we never thought
we’d have to do at this stage of our lives, just to keep on living.
So, I’m tired.
And when I’m tired, I tend to not be particularly analytical. Fatigue tends to open our
subconscious mind, and allow thoughts to flow in and mingle, and create
impressions — not analysis. And the feelings and impressions I’m
getting right now are not particularly pleasant. Tell me if you feel
this way: You feel as if we as a country — as a civilization – are on
the edge of an abyss. You feel as though perhaps we’re about to lose
it all. That the world is in the process of a change that will alter
everything for all time.
In 1998, Peggy Noonan wrote a column that eerily predicted the events of September 11, 2001. She
really didn’t know what was going to happen, but, like now, she just
had a feeling that something awful was about to happen. Here, in part,
is what she wrote:
“If someone does the big, terrible thing to New York or Washington, there will be a lot of
chaos and a lot of lines going down, a lot of damage, and a lot of
things won’t be working so well anymore. And thus a lot more . . .
time. Something tells me we won’t be teleconferencing and faxing about
the Ford account for a while.
The psychic blow–and that is what it will be as people absorb it, a blow, an insult that
reorders and changes–will shift our perspective and priorities,
dramatically, and for longer than awhile. Something tells me more of us
will be praying, and hard, one side benefit of which is that there is
sometimes a quality of stopped time when you pray. You get outside time.
Maybe, of course, I’m wrong. But I think of the friend who lives on Park Avenue who turned to
me once and said, out of nowhere, “If ever something bad is going to
happen to the city, I pray each day that God will give me a sign. That
He will let me see a rat stand up on the sidewalk. So I’ll know to
gather the kids and go.” I absorbed this and, two years later, just a
month ago, poured out my fears to a former high official of the United
States government. His face turned grim. I apologized for being morbid.
He said no, he thinks the same thing. He thinks it will happen in the
next year and a half. I was surprised, and more surprised when he said
that an acquaintance, a former arms expert for another country, thinks
it will happen in a matter of months.
So now I have frightened you. But we must not sit around and be depressed. ‘ Don’t cry,’ Jimmy Cagney once said. ‘There’s enough water in the goulash already.’”
Now, we’re in the same place. It’s not simply another 9/11 we fear, although that’s certainly
possible. It could be that. It could be complete, sudden, economic
collapse. It could be an attack on our electronic infrastructure – a
cyber attack bringing down the internet… and that could be as deadly
and devastating as nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, or other terrorist
Am I being overly pessimistic? Well, yes and no. Pessimistic, yes, because I think we,
not only as a country but as a world, are standing at the edge. I
think most of us feel it. We’re on the edge of complete change. It’s
change we can believe in, alright… but it’s not the change we want.
It’s been coming slowly… then, more rapidly… and although we’re not
exactly sure what form it will take, it will be big. Huge. Earth
shattering. We can feel it in our bones. You can, can’t you? It,
whatever it is, will change everything for all time. It will be
terrible, and awful, and will bring us down.
And yet — and yet…
From that – whatever it is – will be the seeds of rebirth. A chance to, perhaps, start over and
re-shape the world. There are some of us who see it coming. Whatever
‘it’ is. I think, in large part, this is why the tea party movement
was born. Now wait. Hear me out.
After years of complacency… of not paying attention to the gathering clouds… after living lives of
abundance and wealth and freedom, we’re finally waking up to the
reality that the way we’ve been living is not the normal state of the
world. It’s all been a dream, and this time we cannot roll over and go
back to sleep. Yes, the movement is about the expansion of government…
yes, it’s about the confiscatory taxes we see coming… yes, it’s about
the increasingly totalitarian attitude of those we elected to serve us…
not to rule us.
But it’s more than that: It’s about banding together – so we can BE together when the big, awful
thing happens. It’s about unity… standing strong… helping each other…
understanding the true meaning of love and charity and hope.
Yes, we’re angry. But this is also why you don’t see the tea partiers engaging in the sort of
radical, nasty, angry violent protesting that we see coming from the
left. Our rallies, our protests, our gatherings — are about hope.
About building up, not tearing down. You see families, you see
mainstream Americans, who, for the first time in my memory anyway, are
waking up. Coming together. We are not narcissists, demanding rights…
demanding “social justice,” whatever that may be today. We are angry.
But we are strong and getting stronger. Our movement is about
awakening. Finally seeing the danger. Spreading the word to others.
And doing what we can to secure the future.
So the tea party movement is about more than anger and protest. It is about the future, and how we
are going to face it together. And this is the essence of
conservatism: taking care of our own. Our loved ones. Each other.
Because when it all comes apart, and in whatever form it takes, it is
we — the conservatives — who will not be looking for government help.
We’ll be too busy taking care of it ourselves.
And there’s one other thing we must do. Again, quoting from Peggy Noonan’s 1998 column:
“I once talked to a man who had a friend who’d done something that took his breath away. She
was single, middle-aged and middle class, and wanted to find a child to
love. She searched the orphanages of South America and took the child
who was in the most trouble, sick and emotionally unwell. She took the
little girl home and loved her hard, and in time the little girl grew
and became strong, became in fact the kind of person who could and did
help others. Twelve years later, at the girl’s high school graduation,
she won the award for best all-around student. She played the piano for
the recessional. Now she’s at college.
The man’s eyes grew moist. He had just been to the graduation. “These are the things that
stay God’s hand,” he told me. I didn’t know what that meant. He
explained: These are the things that keep God from letting us kill us
So be good. Do good. Stay his hand. And pray.”
That’s from Peggy Noonan. I might add: Stay informed. Stay centered. Love and be loved. Stay
strong. Spread truth – but always in a civilized and respectful way.
And, as Pope John Paul II used to say, fear not.